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PVC industry sets high recycling goals for new voluntary commitment

With VinylPlus, its new 10-yr voluntary commitment, the European PVC industry has setting the bar for success high. Concrete targets in the VinylPlus commitment include the recycling of 800,000 tonnes of PVC per year by 2020, more than triple current volumes.

VinylPlus builds upon the achievements of the European industry's Vinyl 2010 program. The regional scope of the program is the EU-27 plus Norway and Switzerland, with plastic and additives suppliers, compounders, distributors and processors participating in the program. Developing the VinylPlus program were officials from all of these plus from non-governmental organizations (NGOs), regulators and public representatives.

Five key sustainable development challenges have been identified for PVC together with a set of working principles. The first four challenges are technical in nature while the fifth challenge addresses raising awareness and understanding of the importance of sustainable development. Each of the challenges is based on the "System Conditions for a Sustainable Society" as advocated by environmental group The Natural Step .

Those four technical challenges are to achieve a leap in recycling rates of PVC and the development of innovative recycling technologies; addressing concerns about organochlorine emissions; ensuring the sustainable use of additives, and enhancing energy efficiency and the use or renewable energy and raw materials in PVC production. The fifth challenge involves promoting sustainability throughout the whole PVC value chain.

The new initiative builds on the success of the Vinyl 2010 ten-year voluntary commitment to enhance the sustainable production and use of PVC. Among its most significant achievements was the establishment of an infrastructure for the annual collection and recycling of over 250,000 tonnes of PVC. Prior to this, almost all scrap PVC was landfilled.

Commenting on the launch of the new ten-year voluntary commitment, Josef Ertl, chairman of VinylPlus and co-director of PVC supplier Vinnolit, said, "VinylPlus is even more ambitious in its targets and scope than Vinyl 2010. The aim of the industry is to continue to contribute to Europe 2020 goals on sustainable growth through results-driven self-regulation. However, this will not be possible without the support of policy makers at EU and national level in stimulating recycling and use of recyclates through effective waste management and green procurement policies. Promoting a move towards zero landfill in Europe would help boost private investment in waste management and unlock the economic potential of the recycling sector." 

The industry is planning to introduce a new VinylPlus certification and labeling scheme designed to help users to identify and prioritize sustainably produced PVC, while also creating value for VinylPlus participants.  

VinylPlus will continue to be monitored by an independent monitoring committee made up of representatives of the European Parliament, European Commission, trade unions, retailers and consumer organizations. As with Vinyl 2010, the industry will publish an independently verified and audited report outlining the progress made against each of the VinylPlus targets.  

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