Photo showing recycled vinyl flooring from the London 2012 Olympic Games used in a Kent school
The latest report from the European PVC industry’s voluntary commitments, Vinyl 2010 and VinylPlus, documents the “remarkable transformation” that PVC has made in the past 15 years.
‘On the Road to Sustainability: The Ongoing Progress of VinylPlus’ documents the transition from PVC being a much-maligned plastic material to playing an important role in addressing climate change and establishing a circular economy.
Launched in March 2000, the ten-year Vinyl 2010 programme kick-started the recycling of more than one million tonnes of PVC waste in Europe throughout that decade. A significant achievement considering that no infrastructure existed in 1999 and that the material was then widely regarded as ‘unrecyclable’.
Emissions of vinyl chloride monomer and dioxins during manufacturing decreased dramatically under Vinyl 2010, the report highlights, while the use of cadmium-based stabilisers ended in 2001.
VinylPlus was formed in June 2011 to build on the achievements of Vinyl 2010 with a bold vision of making PVC truly sustainable. The VinylPlus programme comprises 30 measurable and concrete targets organised around five challenges. It is based on The Natural Step System Conditions for a Sustainable Society; an internationally-recognised method for sustainability planning that integrates the science of sustainability with business decision-making.
Crucially, says the report, this new way of thinking looks at PVC holistically. Not just how it is manufactured and disposed of, but also how PVC can contribute to a sustainable society where economic growth and human wellbeing fit with reduced natural resource consumption.
Midway through this 10-year programme, the report documents the progress that is being made on all the five challenges and some targets have already been met.
The use of lead-based stabilisers decreased by 86% in the EU-28 between 2007 and 2014 and is on track to complete replacement by the end of 2015. Energy consumption by PVC resin producers has also fallen by 10.2% in line with the 20% reduction by 2020 target.
“Judging by our substantial progress to date, it is clear that the European PVC industry is on the path to sustainability and has impressed the outside world with its voluntary commitment that enables economic growth and job creation with taking care of the planet’s future,” commented Brigitte Dero, VinylPlus General Manager.
“Further proof of how far we’ve come is the London 2012 Olympic Games. The organisers, wanting the Games to be the greenest in history, specified strict sustainability requirements for materials used. Many tonnes of PVC manufactured in accordance with VinylPlus principles were used in the buildings and some of the PVC was recycled or reused afterwards. Thanks to our efforts, PVC can today be considered an Olympic material.”