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PVC WINDOWS: WHAT’S WRONG?

It is now known the spread of PVC frames and windows, proposed as highly environmentally friendly and durable products. While these solutions certainly have several merits, it is important to highlight their most important defects, limitations and problems. To begin with, remember that PVC - namely polyvinyl chloride - is a thermoplastic material used in a wide range of applications because it can be used in both rigid and flexible products. Its great versatility of application and the economy of production are the first and fundamental factors that, from the fifties on, have allowed this plastic to spread like wildfire in the construction field: we are talking about a very wide market penetration, considering that PVC is today the third most widely used plastic composite after polyethylene and polypropylene.

IS PVC REALLY ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY? LIKE ALL PLASTICS, LESS THAN IT LOOKS

However, PVC is a material that presents several problems: although it is recyclable, its widespread diffusion and the constant production of new products makes its actual disposal increasingly expensive - and this situation is almost certainly destined to worsen over time. This is why the question of the actual eco-compatibility of PVC tends to give rise to so many conflicting opinions, primarily because this material is not biodegradable (biodegradability and eco-compatibility are in fact two totally different concepts and not necessarily coexisting) because they are not able, once dispersed in the environment, to easily decompose into less polluting compounds through the action of bacteria and microorganisms. PVC is an environmentally friendly product in the sense that it can be integrated into the environment in which it is used without altering or damaging it. At the same time, despite being a recyclable material, in order to be reused in the production cycle must necessarily be recovered, recast and reworked, with important energy and process costs (and, inevitably, also environmental). Not being biodegradable, this plastic material is therefore - at least for the moment - destined to remain in the environment, with all the pollution problems that this situation entails. Even in broader terms, that of the actual recycling of plastic is a problem now known and the fact that our planet (not to mention the seas and oceans) overflowing with plastic waste by now should be an important indicator of how much producing new plastic is still considered cheaper than recycling existing plastic. The PVC really environmentally friendly, therefore, does not exist yet - especially in the context of windows, where the use of particular chemical stabilizers also makes the "simple" recycling process more complex and expensive. To these objective problems must be added the inevitable decline in quality that a recycled PVC window shows when compared to a similar product not from recycling: as the recycling cycles continue, This aspect will therefore continue to decrease until the material, simply, can no longer be used for the production of windows because it cannot ensure the excellent functional and aesthetic standards that are required today to these products. Finally, it is important to mention that although it is true that PVC originates from a natural raw material, this is by no means unlimited and inexhaustible: it is in fact oil, which, as everyone knows, is a fossil fuel extracted from underground that does not fall into renewable sources because it is destined, sooner or later, to run out permanently.

WOOD: A TRULY ECO-FRIENDLY MATERIAL

To understand the difference between the "behaviour" of PVC once it has been introduced into the environment and that of a truly eco-friendly material, it is sufficient to compare it to wood: in fact, wood has a defined life cycle, composed of a beginning, a phase of active use and an end. The end corresponds to the complete disposal of the material in nature (full biodegradability), without damage to the environment. And as for the industries that use wood to make their products, such as windows, sustainable production allows to maintain a virtuous behavior that avoids dangerous deforestation. In the case of CAIFRAME, for example, this green approach follows three lines:
  • The use of FSC and PEFC certified wood: it means that the raw materials used in the production of our windows come from FSC and PEFC certified and controlled forests, that is managed in a sustainable way. This approach involves reforestation, land conservation and protection of the populations living in the places where the forests are located.
  • Environmentally friendly and sustainable windows realization: this means that the wood used for the production of CAIFRAME windows comes from mature trees ready for felling, which are replaced with younger plants and able to transform much more quickly carbon dioxide into oxygen, with advantages for all.
  • Use of water-based paints and bio-cycle: CAIFRAME windows are painted with completely water-based products and cycle, and with organic paints that use non-toxic and ecological raw materials such as water and organic resins. This is an important production choice, which significantly reduces the CO2 emission during the construction of our windows.
In addition to the fundamental aspect of true environmental compatibility, when compared to a wooden window, the PVC one is not able to ensure the same stability (ie the mechanical strength) in case of large lights. The problem of the deformation of PVC frames, it should be noted, is inevitably also reflected in their thermal and acoustic performance - that is, on the overall insulation that the window can provide to indoor environments. Finally, a PVC window can never have the same aesthetic performance, nor the incredible possibility of customization and the extraordinary material warmth that only a really natural material like wood can offer. We invite you to take a look at our extraordinary solutions: wooden, wooden-aluminium and wooden-bronze windows designed and manufactured with the utmost care to accompany you for a long time - without damaging the environment.