Report: PVC windows hazardous to the environment | WWF

Report: PVC windows hazardous to the environment

Posted on 09 May 2005
Window made of FSC timber.
© WWF / M. Joinery
London, UK – Wood windows are better for the environment than PVC windows, a new report by WWF-UK has concluded.

The report – Window of opportunity: The environmental and economic benefits of specifying timber window frames – shows that windows made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride) were found to be less sustainable and more hazardous than wood.

WWF is encouraging specifiers and buyers of windows to choose wood which has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). This guarantees the wood has been sourced from a well-managed forest or other controlled wood source, and ensures that the timber is legal and not from a controversial source.

PVC is made from oil, a non-renewable source which makes up to 43 per cent of the thermoplastic material. PVC windows also generate more waste and use eight times more energy to manufacture than timber windows. The report also states that hazardous chemicals are released into the environment when PVCs are incinerated – one of the methods of disposal.

Throughout the use and disposal of the product, the overall environmental impact is significantly less for timber windows than for PVC windows.

"WWF believes that timber is a genuinely renewable resource if managed responsibly which is why we urge specifiers and buyers to choose FSC-certified wood," said Christian Thompson, a WWF forests officer.

"This report clearly shows that PVC windows are far from environmentally friendly and I hope it will go some way to dispelling the myth that they are a green choice."

The report is written for specifiers and buyers, such as procurement managers in government departments, who are in the difficult position of having to make decisions on the most economical and environmentally responsible window to specify or buy. This includes ensuring that their commitment to cost-effective purchasing is met.

WWF is working to increase the availability of wood from well-managed forests, such as products certified by the FSC. Members of the WWF-UK Forest & Trade Network (WWF-UK FTN) have committed to phasing out illegal timber from their supply chain and to increase the amount of credible certified material they source.

For further information:
Alison Wade, Press Officer
Tel: +44 1 483 412 388