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News

Record PVC recycling in Europe in 2012

PlasticsEurope : 06 May, 2013  (Special Report)
VinylPlus, the European PVC industry sustainable development programme, had a record 362,076 tonnes of PVC recycled last year, keeping it on track to meet the challenge of recycling 800,000 tonnes per year by 2020. A more comprehensive and wider scope for what constitutes ’recycled PVC’ has been adopted to include post-consumer and limited types of post-industrial PVC, as well as some of the regulated waste streams in the EU.
Record PVC recycling in Europe in 2012

Launched in 2011, VinylPlus is the new ten-year Voluntary Commitment to sustainable development of the European PVC industry. The VinylPlus programme has been developed in an open process of stakeholder dialogue with industry, NGOs, regulators, public representatives and users. Five key challenges have been identified based on The Natural Step System Conditions for a Sustainable Society. The regional scope of the programme is the EU-27 plus Norway and Switzerland.

Innovative technologies to recycle difficult-to-treat PVC waste are under currently evaluation and significant efforts were made to address the ‘legacy additives’ issue related to the presence of restricted chemicals in recycled PVC.

The 2012 results were presented at the Vinyl Sustainability Forum 2013 held in April in Istanbul. Echoing words from the EU Environment Commissioner, VinylPlus Chairman Filipe Constant said the industry “is effectively moving from a model of resource consumption that follows a ‘take-make-use-throw away' linear pattern into a truly circular economy model which puts end-of-life materials back into the production stream extending the added-value of PVC’s inherent durability and versatility.”

In 2012 VinylPlus registered a decrease of 76.37% in lead stabiliser consumption in the EU-27 compared to 2007 levels, well on track to complete the substitution by the end of 2015. The new audit on the ‘PVC Industry Charters’ showed a 96% full compliance.

A number of VinylPlus taskforces are fully operational, studying how to incorporate renewable energy and raw materials, the sustainable use of additives and the environmental footprint of PVC production. A VinylPlus product label concept for PVC products has been developed in collaboration with The Natural Step – an NGO providing input and guidance for the development of the VinylPlus programme – and the UK expert certification body BRE.

“It is quite impressive to see such a dynamic value-chain working together to make the entire industry and its products more sustainable,” commented Reha Gür, Vice-President, Turkish Plastics Manufacturers Association, PAGDER. “As most of Europe and the world are experiencing difficult economic times, this is even more admirable. We are honoured to host the Vinyl Sustainability Forum in Istanbul and hope the work of VinylPlus can help inspiring our country’s PVC companies – large and small - to move a step closer to the principles and goals behind this programme.”

An important focus of the VinylPlus programme is the promotion of ‘sustainability awareness’. In that regard, a number of communication projects were supported last year to reinforce the Voluntary Commitment messages along the value chain. VinylPlus also engaged in external debates including Rio+20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. The VinylPlus Voluntary Commitment was included in the Rio+20 Registry of Commitments.

Speaking at the Forum in Istanbul, Ambassador Tomas Anker Christensen, Senior Advisor at the United Nations Office for Partnerships noted “partnerships are a key enabler for achieving progress on agreed development goals, including sustainable development. VinylPlus has demonstrated success and we are keen to see how the European industry challenges itself to be more ambitious and concrete in addressing identified challenges. Industry has a critical role to play in accelerating change, greening the economy and driving sustainable progress around the world”.

VinylPlus Progress Report and Executive Summary

VinylPlus: Five key sustainable development challenges for PVC

Challenge One: Controlled-Loop Management of PVC

Work towards the more efficient use and control of PVC throughout its life cycle.

Targets

  • Recycle 800,000 tonnes/year of PVC by 2020.
  • Exact definitions and reporting concept to be available by end 2011.
  • Develop and exploit innovative technology to recycle 100,000 tonnes/year of difficult to recycle PVC material (within the overall 800,000 tonnes/year recycling target) by 2020.
  • Address the issue of legacy additives and deliver a status report within each annual VinylPlus Progress Report.

Challenge Two: Organochlorine Emissions

Help to ensure that persistent organic compounds do not accumulate in nature and that other emissions are reduced.

Targets

  • Engage with external stakeholders in discussion of the organochlorine emissions during 2012.
  • Develop a plan to deal with stakeholder concerns on organochlorine emissions by end 2012.
  • Compliance with PVC resin Industry Charters in first Quarter 2012.
  • Risk assessment for the transportation of major raw materials, in particular VCM, by end 2013.
  • Target zero-accident rate with VCM release during transportastion in the next ten years.

Challenge Three: Sustainable Use of Additives

Review the use of PVC additives and move towards more sustainable additives systems.

Targets

  • Lead replacement in the EU-27 by end 2015.
  • Additives Task Force to work out robust criteria for the ‘sustainable use of additives’, with status report by end 2012.
  • Validation of the robust criteria for the ‘sustainable use of additives’, in conjunction with the downstream value chain, with status report by end 2014.
  • Other PVC additive producers and the downstream value chain will be invited to participate in the ‘sustainable additives’ initiative.

Challenge Four: Sustainable Energy & Climate Stability

Help minimise climate impacts through reducing energy and raw material use, potentially endeavouring to switch to renewable sources and promoting sustainable innovation.

Targets

  • Establish Energy Efficiency Task Force by end 2011.
  • Resin producers to reduce their specific energy consumption, targeting 20% by 2020.
  • Define targets for specific energy reduction for converters by end 2012.
  • Energy Efficiency Task Force to recommend suitable environmental footprint measurement by end 2014.
  • Establish Renewable Materials Task Force by end first Quarter 2012.
  • Renewable Materials Task Force’s status report by end 2012.

Challenge Five: Sustainability Awareness

Continue to build sustainability awareness across the value chain – including stakeholders inside and outside the industry – to accelerate progress towards resolving our sustainability challenges.

Targets

  • VinylPlus web portal to go online in Summer 2011.
  • A VinylPlus Monitoring Committee, which will meet a minimum of twice a year, will be established by end 2011.
  • A VinylPlus Membership Certificate will be launched by end 2011.
  • A public, and independently audited, VinylPlus Progress Report will be published annually and proactively promoted to key stakeholders. The first edition will be published in 2012.
  • Annual external stakeholder meetings will be organised, commencing in 2012.
  • A VinylPlus product label will be launched by end 2012.
  • ECVM will take an active role in promoting VinylPlus with international PVC industry organisations worldwide.
  • ESPA will actively promote VinylPlus sustainability principles to the markets outside the EU-27.
  • VinylPlus will increase the number of participants by 20%, compared with 2010 by end 2013.
  • VinylPlus will engage with five global brand holders by end 2013.
  • A review of progress towards the globalisation of the approach will be undertaken by end 2015.
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