VinylPlus® has spent almost 20 years making the European PVC industry more sustainable and circular, well before the European Commission’s own Circular Economy came to be. Today, the Von der Leyen Commission has further elevated sustainability and environmental topics up the agenda, setting ambitious targets and outlining transformative policy initiatives such as the European Green Deal, which includes a new Circular Economy Strategy.
Within this context, the VinylPlus Progress Report 2020 shows how the European PVC industry is doing its part to fulfil its commitments to sustainability, minimising waste and increasing circularity. The Report details their achievements in increasing the sustainability performance of PVC as a material fit for a circular economy. Progress in this area has been measured according to the five key challenges set for the entire European PVC value chain in collaboration with the sustainability NGO, The Natural Step.
“VinylPlus® can be considered as a frontrunner for the circular economy” - Gwenole Cozigou, Director of Sustainable Industry and Mobility at the European Commission’s DG GROW
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) has become a plastic material of choice for medium- and long-life applications, especially in the building and construction sector where it is used to make products such as window frames, pipes, flooring, and cables, as well in the health sector for lifesaving medical devices. PVC is reusable and can be recycled multiple times without losing its properties.
Recycling this valuable material is a key part of VinylPlus’ voluntary commitment to sustainability and to the EU’s Circular Economy. Their recycling efforts are reinforced by traceability and certification schemes that ensure the best recycling practices. VinylPlus also signed the EU’s Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration last year, which aims to boost the EU market for recycled plastics, and now chairs the alliance’s Construction Working Group.
The Report confirms that VinylPlus is achieving its targets for the European PVC industry. To guarantee maximum transparency, participation and accountability, a Monitoring Committee, composed of representatives of the European Parliament, the European Commission, trade unions, consumer organisations and academia, supervises VinylPlus’ achievements and progress.
Watch the video below to see some of the highlights from the report.
CHALLENGE 1: CONTROLLED LOOP MANAGEMENT
Controlling the loop means making it easier to recycle PVC and to increase the use of recyclate in products. In 2019, the European PVC industry recycled 771,313 tonnes of PVC, bringing the cumulative total to 5.7 million tonnes of recycled PVC since 2000. The industry is well on track to meeting its own target of recycling 900,000 tonnes of PVC per year into new products by 2025 and at least 1 million tonnes by 2030, thereby contributing greatly to the European Commission’s target of 10 million tonnes of recycled plastics by 2025, as set out in the 2018 Plastics Strategy and the EU Circular Plastics Alliance.
CHALLENGE 2: ORGANOCHLORINE EMISSIONS
The industry charters for suspension and emulsion grades of PVC are aimed at reducing environmental impact in the production phase. In 2019, they were updated, taking into account the current best available techniques, and combined into a single document: ECVM Industry Charter for the Production of Vinyl Chloride Monomer and PVC. The updated Charter includes two new commitments: to further limit workers’ exposure to VCM and to participate in the Operation Clean Sweep® programme by applying the auditing method adapted to PVC plants. The PVC resin industry is committed to achieving 100 percent compliance with the updated Charter by the end of 2021.
“Over the last 20 years, VinylPlus® has worked tirelessly to tackle the challenges of circularity. We continuously aim to improve the sustainability performance of PVC embracing the European Green Deal, the Circular Economy Action Plan and other policy initiatives impacting the plastics sector” - Brigitte Dero, Managing Director of VinylPlus
CHALLENGE 3: SUSTAINABLE USE OF ADDITIVES
VinylPlus has developed the Additive Sustainability Footprint (ASF) methodology to calculate the lifecycle impact of additives by assessing their sustainable use across the whole societal lifecycles of finished articles. The ASF enables additives manufacturers, compounders, converters and the PVC industry to improve the sustainability footprint of a given additive, or to compare the sustainability footprint of different additives performing the same function. A peer-reviewed paper explaining the ASF methodology and its criteria was published by the Journal of Vinyl & Additive Technology in August 2019.
CHALLENGE 4: SUSTAINABLE USE OF ENERGY AND RAW MATERIALS
The PVC industry continues to make efforts to reduce its energy consumption and to shift to renewable energy sources, with the target of achieving a 20 percent energy consumption reduction by the end of 2020. Since the publication of its first status report on renewable raw materials in 2015, VinylPlus has continued to monitor developments. Thanks to technical and scientific improvements and industry innovation over the past few years, non-fossil-based PVC additives and compounds are starting to become available. In October 2019 and February 2020, commercially viable bio-attributed certified PVC resins were launched on the market by two ECVM member companies. VinylPlus® will produce an updated status report on renewable raw materials by the end of 2020.
Watch the video below to find how our VinylPlus® is embracing the Circular Economy
CHALLENGE 5: SUSTAINABILITY AWARENESS
The VinylPlus® Product Label, the sustainability scheme for PVC products in the building and construction sector, makes it easier for customers, specifiers and markets to identify products that deliver the highest sustainability performance and contribute most to the circular economy. To date, 112 products and product systems manufactured by ten companies in 18 European sites have been certified with the VinylPlus® Product Label. In 2019, the Label was officially validated in Italy by Accredia. VinylPlus is working to extend accreditation to other parts of Europe. In 2019, VinylPlus developed strategic partnerships with sports and citizenship organisations to raise awareness of the European PVC industry’s contribution to the circular economy, to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and to building new relationships with institutions, authorities and citizens, particularly the young generation, at local, regional and global levels.
Launched in 2011, VinylPlus® is the 10- year Voluntary Commitment to sustainable development of the European PVC industry. The programme was developed through open dialogue with stakeholders, including industry, NGOs, regulators, civil society representatives and PVC users. The regional scope is the EU-27 plus Norway, Switzerland and the UK. VinylPlus represents over 200 companies of PVC resin and additives producers and converters and coordinates a network of around 170 recyclers. VinylPlus has invested over €110m in sustainability in Europe since 2000.
Watch the video below to find our more about VinylPlus®
For further information and to access the full 2020 Progress Report, visit: www.vinylplus.eu