Use resources efficiently in construction and building trades

Window supply and installation - how to cut waste and costs

Window, door and conservatory manufacturers and installers have a crucial role to play in reducing the environmental impacts of glass and glazing. This can be achieved by adopting best practice techniques for waste minimisation and good waste management.

Frame manufacturers can minimise waste by:

  • Automating profile cutting operations. Fully automated profile cutting allows a wastage rate of around 5 per cent, and semi-automated cutting should generally achieve rates of up to 13 per cent. If your wastage rates are higher than 13 per cent, you should look into how to improve this.
  • Recycling profile off-cuts. The major manufacturers generally offer take-back schemes, or you could find an independent recycler.
  • Handling, cutting and storing glass with care.
  • Recycling glass wherever possible - when looking for recycling outlets, first ask the manufacturers whether they accept glass waste. If not, find an independent glass recycler.
  • Returning faulty or incorrectly sized insulating glass units directly to the manufacturer for disposal.
  • Working with suppliers to implement a returnable packaging system with plastic crates. If this isn't possible, ask them to reduce the packaging they use - you could even make it a requirement of their supply contract.
  • Separating cardboard and plastic packaging for a specialist recycler to collect. If this isn't practical, consider using a small compactor or baler for cardboard and plastic packaging to make the most of skip space. This could reduce the number of skips you need by up to 40 per cent.
  • Ensuring that staff are aware of new waste minimisation measures, and the reasons for these. For example, installing different brightly-coloured and labelled bins for different materials could help people to separate waste for recycling.

As most waste produced by window and door manufacture is recyclable and often high value, you should be able to sell your waste to recyclers. If you are spending money to dispose of waste, you are probably not getting the best deal.

Window, door and conservatory installers can improve waste management by:

  • Sending packaging waste (a large component of waste particularly from new-build sites) back to the yard, so that all packaging can be collected and recycled together.
  • Separating hardcore into an inert waste skip - this could lead to savings in the region of £30 to £40 a tonne.
  • Sending timber to a community wood recycling scheme - this could lead to savings of up to £140 a tonne.
  • Sending waste flat glass to a specialist recycler. For high specification off-cuts, you could actually be paid for your waste.
  • Selling aluminium, lead and steel as scrap metal by weight.

You must help to ensure that your waste is properly dealt with - see duty of care for business waste.