PVC recycling continues to grow across Europe, with the UK contributing more than 20 percent - or 88,648 tonnes – to the total recycled through Recovinyl, the PVC industry’s recycling scheme, in 2013.
A total of 435,083 tonnes of waste PVC was recycled through Recovinyl last year across its 16 European member countries. To date, the Recovinyl recycling network comprises 141 companies.
Recovinyl is the operational arm of VinylPlus, the ten-year Voluntary Commitment of the European PVC industry, which is tackling the sustainability challenges for PVC and delivery of current recycling targets to 2020.
Waste PVC-U profiles comprised 50,421 tonnes of the UK’s recycling effort in 2013, with pipes, rigid and flexible PVC films and cables making up the rest.
This profile fraction is equivalent to the replacement of 3 million individual frames, or more than 300,000 homes based on an average of ten windows per house. The assumption is based on the weight of an average PVC-U window frame.
“These latest figures show that PVC recycling is maintaining its upward trend, with demand continuing to grow for good quality recycled material that can be reused in a variety of new products, from windows to flooring and advertising banners,” commented Project Manager, Jane Gardner of Axion Consulting, Recovinyl’s UK agents.
“Once again, the UK has made a significant contribution to the success of PVC recycling, thanks to ongoing commitment from the sector and sustained investment in recycling infrastructure across the country,” continued Gardner.
Having already established significant volumes of PVC recycling with Vinyl 2010, Recovinyl’s strategy now is to consolidate and increase the steady supply of PVC waste being recycled in Europe by creating demand – a ‘pull-market’ for recycled PVC material - from the converting industry.
Potential new recycling opportunities for PVC include non-infectious medical PVC waste from hospitals, such as IV Fluid and oxygen bags. This type of waste is the focus of a new VinylPlus-funded research project undertaken jointly by Axion Consulting and the BPF Vinyls Group.
Gardner added: “We are now looking to collect and recycle PVC from new sources, such as non-pharmacologically active waste from hospitals. Trials would be based on a successful Australian study and we would be interested to hear from organisations looking to explore these recycling options, such as medical and care organisations.”
As part of its drive to increase PVC recycling, VinylPlus has issued new communications material showcasing the sector’s achievements. The VinylPlus PVC Recycling Technologies brochure outlines some of the challenges and solutions for extending recycling of waste PVC, with an emphasis on the emerging technologies that can access the ‘more difficult to recycle’ waste streams.
Its ‘Closing the Loop with PVC’ document showcases best practice examples developed within the framework of the VinylPlus programme, such as extensive recycling of PVC products from the 2012 London Olympics.
One of the objectives of the VinylPlus Voluntary Commitment is to recycle 800,000 tonnes of PVC waste per year by 2020, including 100,000 tonnes of difficult to recycle PVC through innovative recycling technologies.