PVC Industry Continues to Step up to New Challenges

Date: 26.06.2012

Nine years after commencing its industry-wide product stewardship program, the PVC industry has released its latest annual report of progress in improving the environmental and health impacts associated with the life cycle of PVC and PVC products.

The 2011 PVC Product Stewardship Program Progress Report outlines the activities of Signatory companies during the calendar year against their obligations under the Program commitments and includes new commitments to address new aspects of the PVC life cycle. This is an ongoing, evolutionary program, and the annual progress reports are independently verified.

A history of reports shows continued advancement and development of best practice in PVC manufacturing as Signatories strive for full compliance.  

A key deliverable under the Program has been the 99 per cent reduction in the use of lead compound based stabilisers, used for over 50 years in some PVC, or vinyl, products. Today, they have voluntarily been virtually eliminated from Signatory products in Australia and replaced by alternatives without the environmental and occupational health concerns lead compounds posed.

Each of the Signatories to the Program works towards addressing a series of commitments within realistic time-frames, from reducing manufacturing emissions, to adopting life cycle thinking in product development, to end-of-life product recycling.

Notably, 11 of the 31 Signatories achieved full compliance with all relevant commitments in 2011. To maintain program integrity, one Signatory was delisted during the year for failure to report and six new Signatory companies joined the Program.

The Vinyl Council which administers the Program, recognises that PVC products add significant benefit to society, including environmental benefit, as a function of their excellent performance, durability, relatively low embodied energy and affordability.

Nevertheless, all products and materials can continue to improve their health and environmental footprint, so we constantly review aspects of the PVC life cycle for improvement, and in 2011, introduced new standards to be met.

The manufacturing commitments were extended to include additional emissions standards for a particular type of PVC resin (emulsion resin) used by some Signatories. In addition, an Energy Efficiency and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Charter developed in 2011 is now included as a commitment in the Program for 2012.

The Program has also identified PVC waste recovery as a growing priority to support the initiatives of Signatories in recycling their product waste into new vinyl products. During 2011, a diverse group of around 60 stakeholders attended a PVC ReSource Summit to formulate a strategy to advance PVC recycling in Australia and remove some of the persistent and systemic barriers to PVC/plastics recovery in Australia. A Steering Group and two working groups have since been established to drive the strategy implementation, focussed on establishing a viable long term PVC recycling practice.

To view the report (PDF), click here.

For a summary of the current commitments, or more information on the program, visit www.pvcproductstewardship.org.au

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