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Designed to give practical guidance on how to recycle window waste and aimed at window replacement, conservatory and building maintenance and renovation companies, Recycling Your Window Waste: A good practice guide is a new publication from the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP).

Research commissioned by WRAP has found that there is up to 500,000 tonnes of flat glass waste arising from buildings in the UK every year. Although at present very little of this waste is recycled, WRAP says that the potential is "considerable and growing."

The two part guide is intended to highlight the potential recycling opportunities and cost savings. According to WRAP, clear financial advantages can be gained by reducing waste disposal costs and recycling segregated glass, PVC-U and metals found in window frames. In addition, the organisation says that good environmental credentials are increasingly being seen as a key factor in purchasing decisions, providing marketing opportunities to generate business.

The domestic replacement sector is one of the UK's main sources of glass waste with around 6.8 million window units replaced each year. These units account for around 190,000 tonnes of waste, including 90,000 tonnes of glass and substantial amounts of timber, PVC-U and other frame material - the equivalent of 60,000 skips full of glass waste per year.

The publication states that given the current trends in window design and usage, it is expected that over the next 10 years this figure will rise to 160,000 tonnes of glass per year with an estimated 6,200 tonnes of timber and 89,000 tonnes of PVC-U window waste produced each year.

Andy Dawe, materials sector manager for glass at WRAP said: "We have developed this guide to provide practical information to decision makers in the replacement window industry. The guide covers the key aspects for those considering recycling their window waste such as deconstruction and segregation techniques, how to deal with the waste produced and the costs and savings involved in recycling. It also includes an additional leaflet designed to provide step-by-step guidance for employees working on site."

Dawe said that in parallel with the development of the guide, WRAP is working with industry to put in place the "necessary collection and processing infrastructure to ensure that the desire to be recycled is satisfied."

According to the guide, which has been developed from research commissioned by WRAP and led by the Building Research Establishment, it takes around 140 complete windows to fill a 40 yard skip, with an average cost of disposal likely to be around £190. However, it goes on to state that: "To understand the economics of segregating window waste for recycling, there are a number of costs you need to consider: staff time to separate the materials, skip charges and machinery and equipment costs to deconstruct windows."

WRAP says that labour will be the major cost of deconstruction activities and that this in turn will depend on the volume of windows processed. A standard window (with two opening panes), regardless of material type, takes on average 15 minutes to deconstruct. Allowing a staff cost of £8 per hour, this represents a cost of about £2 per window (based on average 2004 costs).

In terms of potential markets for window waste, examples for applications for glass include: new glass manufacture, aggregates, foam glass and bricks and sanitaryware.

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