A new house in a Melbourne suburban street has demonstrated that affordable Passive House construction looks within reach in Australia.
Until now passive houses were priced well beyond the means of ordinary Australians, and scared off both builders and home buyers. But retirees Sue and Peter, builder RMH homes, passive house certifier Grun Consulting, and uPVC windows supplier VUE Windows have produced an elegant, spacious home that looks like any normal new build. Unlike those normal new builds, however, the home will produce stellar results in terms of thermal comfort and energy efficiency. In doing so, they have opened the door to more affordable, comfortable, high performing homes in Australia.
The house features an expansive wall consisting of 32.45 square metres of uPVC double glazed windows and doors across the north-facing living and kitchen areas, including openable fanlight windows at ceiling height for purging hot summer air.
The argon filled double glazed uPVC windows achieve excellent insulation value of Uw 1.37 and a solar heat gain co-efficiency (SHGC) of 0.58, allowing winter sunshine to penetrate but not too much solar radiation in summer.
Read the full article about this house, published in Sourceable.net.
The Vinyl Council of Australia’s hugely-successful hospitals’ recycling scheme has been shortlisted in the Circular Economy category of the Banksia Foundation Awards 2017.
From its earliest beginnings in 2009, the scheme has overcome challenges to embrace more than 80 hospitals in Australia and 28 in New Zealand. IV bags, face masks and oxygen tubing are collected and recycled by two Vinyl Council members Baxter (multinational and Australian-based manufacturer of IV bags) and Welvic (Australian compounder).
Significant investment and commitment by these two companies and the Council has helped the PVC Recycling in Hospitals scheme to flourish and divert quality PVC from landfill into durable, locally-manufactured products. These include industrial and garden hose in Australia and children’s playground mats in New Zealand, which are exported to Australia and around the Pacific.
It is also being replicated round the world. For example, in the UK 11 hospitals are participating in the growing RecoMed PVC recycling scheme with high-quality medical grade plastic being recycled into horticultural products.
The Vinyl Council’s PVC Recycling Project Manager, Helen Millicer said: “We are thrilled to have been shortlisted for this sustainability award. In terms of significance, this Australian initiative shows that quality material from hospitals can be safely recovered and reprocessed to become durable, locally-made product in Australia and in other parts of the world.
“There is no limit to the demand for this high-quality material as a substitute for virgin in Australia and New Zealand. It’s a great step forward in terms of sustainability for PVC and the environment. It’s a valuable raw material resource that can be given a useful ‘second life’ in new products and that’s good news all round!”
The scheme is aiming to recycle a total of 2,500 tonnes per year throughout Australia. Currently, monthly PVC quantities from both hospitals and home patients (Australia & New Zealand) produces enough for 95 km of garden hose or 4500 cushioned play mats for children’s playgrounds. This displaces 14 tonnes a month of imported PVC resin and additives, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions associated with the PVC in new products by 80 percent.
Winners will be announced at the Banksia Awards ceremony in Sydney on 1 November.
Imaginative end product concepts for using waste PVC advertising banners have been displayed at Waste Expo Australia, a business-to-business exhibition for waste, recycling and sustainability in Australia.
Roof shingles, pallet slip sheets, floor tiles and a design for a water storage/seat for garden drip irrigation were among the inspirational ideas presented by Monash University at the event, held from 11 to 12 October 2017 in Melbourne.
The designs were created after the Vinyl Council successfully obtained funding from the NSW Environment Trust to identify ways to reprocess advertising billboard skins and find potential end markets for the recyclate.
Currently around 500 tonnes of this material are disposed to landfill each year, as well as larger quantities of grain covers and truck tarpaulins totalling around 5,000 tonnes per year.
Commenting on the designs, Vinyl Council Chief Executive Sophi MacMillan said: “A series of workshops and forums with the Outdoor Media industry, Monash University, UNSW and manufacturers have delivered excellent results.
“As well as producing some fabulous ideas for recycled PVC, the concepts reflect perfectly the Waste Expo principles of ‘Where today’s waste becomes tomorrow’s future’.”
Other ideas for using the reprocessed material include a woven fabric for should bags, skateboard skins and sound attenuation barriers.
Finding solutions to reprocessing the waste PVC involved close collaboration between industry associations, manufacturers, industrial designers and chemical engineers.
“As a priority recycling area, we are very encouraged by these early results,” added Sophi. “A new reprocessing method has been identified, which is proceeding to international patent, and a low-cost reprocessing method has been identified for some suitable product, leading to 2 tonnes recycled material per month.”
The PVC Recycling in Hospitals program collects specific, used PVC medical products for recycling safely into useful new products.
Initiated in Australia by the Vinyl Council in collaboration with staff at a metropolitan hospital, the program collects PVC IV bags, face masks and oxygen tubing it is now operating in ~115 hospitals and healthcare facilities in Australia and New Zealand.
These PVC, or vinyl, medical products are readily recyclable due to the quality and transparency of the polymer and the large number of items in use daily. Over 50 million IV bags are consumed annually in Australia alone. Together with the face masks and tubing, at least 2,500 tonnes of locally recyclable material is available for collection and reprocessing.
Plastics are a significant share of hospital general waste currently sent to landfill at a cost to the hospital, and PVC is the most commonly used polymer in medical products.
At the initiative of an anaethetist, the PVC Recycling in Hospitals program started as a pilot program in 2009 at Western Health, Victoria. The Vinyl Council developed the program in collaboration with Western Health, and is proud to support its growth with members including Baxter Healthcare, Welvic Australia and transport companies and government agencies. It has grown to service hospitals in most states in Australia, and in New Zealand. In 2016, it won recognition as a finalist of the Victorian Premier's Sustainability Awards and as a key element of the 2016 award winner, Melbourne Health's entry. Inquiries continue to come from across Australia and the world.
The material is reprocessed by Vinyl Council member, Welvic in Australia and MattaProducts in New Zealand. It is primarily used in new industrial and garden hoses and play and safety mats for children and workplaces.
Start PVC Recycling in Your Hospital
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Resources to help set up your PVC Recycling program:
The following booklet, training slides and videos have been designed to help hospitals set up and implement PVC Recycling in Hospitals effectively and efficiently.
The Business Case for PVC Recycling, prepared by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, April 2017.