The Wood Window Alliance exposes misleading claims made by PVC-u window companies

21 July 2017

The Wood Window Alliance (WWA) has launched a campaign to highlight the misleading facts and plastic promises that consumers are being fed by some PVC-u companies. The campaign aims to set the record straight and prove that wood is good. It is focussing on how fake wood windows are bad for the planet’s health, bad for people’s health and bad for their houses.

The WWA has looked at the marketing claims made by the PVC-u companies in support of these timber lookalike windows and believe many are misleading. While continuing to make the positive case for wood windows, the WWA is determined to do everything it can to expose these claims for what they are.

The Wood Window Alliance Chair, Tony Pell, commented on the new campaign.

“Many of the claims made for these PVC-u windows on the internet and in marketing materials are misleading, although they are presented as ‘facts’. Although we believe in taking a positive marketing stance, letting people know how beautiful, durable and environmentally-friendly timber windows are, we feel we simply have to respond to these ‘facts’ to set the record straight.

“The Wood Window Alliance has done considerable work over the past few years to ensure we make our claims consistent, clear and honest. Having reviewed the available data and latest research, we have decided to challenge the worst of these misleading so-called ‘facts’.”

The Plastic Promises and Fake Facts campaign makes the following arguments

1. Fake wood windows are bad for the planet’s health

PVC (a plastic) is a major user of fossil fuels – a non-renewable resource. According to the British Plastics Federation, plastics production uses 4% of global oil production annually

Chlorine, a major constituent of PVC, is energy and emissions-intensive. 8.06 million tonnes of chlorine – roughly a third of Europe’s total chlorine production – was used to manufacture PVC in Europe alone in 2013. The UK’s main chlorine plant in Runcorn has an overall energy consumption of over 250MW, roughly equivalent to the energy used by the city of Liverpool.

According to Waste Management World, in 2013 only some 15% of old PVC-u windows were recycled in the UK. But recycled PVC-u is a major pathway for hazardous legacy materials, such as mercury, cadmium and lead, into new PVC-u products.

2. Fake wood windows are bad for people’s health

PVC is made from Vinyl Chloride Monomer (VCM), a Class 1 human carcinogen.  

Many companies and organisations have placed PVC on a banned or precautionary list, including for example, the Cradle-to-Cradle Product Innovation Institute, the US Green Building Council, Perkins+Will architects, Google, Nike, Volvo and Apple.

3. Fake wood windows are bad for their property’s health

They won’t last as long as timber frames

They cannot be maintained, repaired or redecorated.

The WWA has included a range of excellent resources on their website and online to support the campaign and give visitors access to the latest data and research. These include:

- The Fake Facts and Plastic Promises video

- Infographics focussing on how fake wood windows are bad for the planet’s health, bad for people’s health and bad for their houses

- A Clear Choice: An update of the WWF’s 2005 report ‘Window of opportunity. The environmental benefits of specifying timber frames’

- uPVC windows through the life cycle, A report by the Alliance for Sustainable Building Products, February 2017

- A Cradle to Cradle feasibility study on wooden window frames, SGS Search 2017

- Whole Life Analysis of timber, modified timber and aluminium-clad timber windows, Heriot Watt University, 2013

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