How to Recycle Old Windows

When replacing your windows for shiny, new modern versions, your first thoughts might be on how great your home will look. You’re probably also thinking about energy savings and reduced bills. But what about the environment? Did you stop to consider how to dispose of old windows? Recycling, reusing or repurposing your windows are responsible ways to proceed, so we’ll talk you through everything you need to know. 

Can windows be recycled?

Yes, many windows can be recycled or reused. However, you need to start by assessing the materials and specifics of your old windows. If your house was built before 1970 and the original windows are still present, paint used in your home may have contained lead. There are rules specific to renovations including window and door replacements carried out in homes built before this time, so you’ll need to research this before you begin your window replacement. 

If your home does fall into this category, you may also need to follow regulations on how to dispose of your old windows which will rule out standard recycling routes. You can find more information via the Association for Project Safety who are an authority when it comes to best practices in safety risk management.   

We’re often asked if UPVC windows can be recycled. The good news is, UPVC is actually an easily recycled material, so the answer is yes! 

Next, you’re probably wondering how you can dispose of window glass. Glass is a recyclable material, right? So there should be plenty of options here. Unfortunately, things are a little more complicated when it comes to recycling window glass. A simple glass bottle actually has a different chemical composition to glass from a window. The melting temperatures are different too, so the two types of glass can’t be recycled together. 

Window glass can be many different types; such as tinted, safety glass, and tempered glass. Each type of glass needs different treatment which further complicates the recycling process. This doesn’t mean recycling is impossible though, we’ll explain how next.

How to Recycle Old Windows

To start the recycling process, first you’ll have to separate the different window materials. This means taking windows out of their frames.

How to Take Old Windows Out of Their Frames

Start by removing all moving parts from the window by unscrewing the hinges. Stack all the framed sections together. Saw through any upright central sections with care, then bang frames away from the glass using a hammer and chisel. 

Where to Take Old Window Materials for Recycling

Once you’ve separated the materials, you’ll need to find a centre that can recycle them. One of the best options when it comes to UPVC window recycling, recycling old double glazed units and more is a building materials reuse centre. You’ll need to search for one local to you (your local council is usually a good place to start) and speak to them to see which materials they accept before taking your old windows to be recycled. Take a look at this useful guide to recycling construction materials for more information. 

What Else can you do with Old Windows?

If you can remove your windows in tact, you can also find ways to repurpose them rather than recycling the individual materials. This is a great option for creative people who are looking to create a unique feature. 

How to Repurpose Old Windows

Here are some ideas for repurposing or upcycling your old windows.

  • Photo frames: An old window can make a great frame for a striking photo collage. Pick out your favourites and get creative!
  • Mirror: Replace the glass with a mirror and hang your old window in your home.
  • Garden feature: Use your old window to create a feature in the garden, dividing different zones or replacing a fence panel. 
  • Cabinet doors: If you’re really handy, you could create a bespoke cabinet and use your old windows as cabinet doors.

For more ideas, check out this great round up of window repurposing ideas

Responsible Window Replacement

Replacing your windows can really lift the look of your home and improve energy efficiency. But spare a thought for replacing responsibly by looking into recycling or repurposing your windows before you start your project. Make use of building material reuse centres or use creative ideas to help your old windows continue their lifespan in a useful way rather than ending up in landfill. You’ll find the whole process more fulfilling knowing you’ve done your bit!

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