The globally reknowned, triennial UK PVC technical conference is preparing its 14th edition to take place on 20-23 April 2020 in Edinburgh and has called for abstracts.
The organising committee - volunteers from the global PVC community - are ready to receive offers of papers until the 1 June 2019.
PVC 2020 continues to build on its reputation as a world-leading conference series, delivering a comprehensive and varied programme of international speakers, high-quality papers and exceptional networking opportunities.
The exciting move of this conference from its historic Brighton base to Edinburgh heralds a new chapter for this respected series, which in 2017 attracted over 530 delegates spanning 42 countries across 6 continents. PVC2020 in Edinburgh is expected to be bigger and better than before.
The committee is looking for abstracts on the following topics:
Abstracts (of up to 300 words) for consideration for the programme should be submitted online by 1 June 2019. Full details and online submission is available on the event website.
Companies with a more commercial story to tell can take advantage of the exhibition opportunities at the event. The exhibition floor plan has just been released.
The Vinyl Council of Australia has added a new category – PVC Duct Systems – to its Best Environmental Practice PVC Product Register in response to the growth in the use of low-profile PVC ductwork systems.
The EcoDuct 300 Series is the first product in this category to carry the Vinyl Council’s Best Environmental Practice (BEP) PVC trade mark. This mark is awarded to independently assessed, Best Practice PVC-compliant products that meet stringent life cycle criteria, developed by the Green Building Council of Australia.
Incorporating up to 50% recycled PVC, the newly accredited EcoDuct is a low impact, fire retardant duct system that is specifically designed for high-rise apartment applications where limited ceiling spaces are common. It is also 100% recyclable at end of life.
The Vinyl Council’s BEP PVC Register covers a wide range of BEP-accredited construction products. PVC Duct Systems joins existing categories covering flooring, resilient wall coverings, pipes & fittings, conduit/fittings, fencing, cable and permanent formwork.
Manufacturers of products holding BEP PVC accreditation have undertaken the vigorous, third-party assessment process required to verify their minimal environmental impact. The Vinyl Council then vets the certificates and records the products, suppliers and certificate validity on an online register.
The Council’s Chief Executive, Sophi MacMillan says: “PVC is a versatile material that offers a cost-effective, durable and low maintenance solution for a wide range of construction products.
“Best Environmental Practice PVC accreditation is an established quality mark for PVC, or vinyl products that helps specifiers to choose sustainable products manufactured to the most stringent environmental criteria.
“In addition to being recognised in Green Star’s Responsible Building Materials credit, Best Practice PVC is a valuable aid for specifiers and anyone procuring PVC products; and the online register makes it simple to identify those items made to the highest sustainable standards.”
You can find out more at /in-greenstar/best-practice-pvc-product-register
PVC’s versatility and sustainability in construction applications is amply illustrated by TechBoard, an innovative product developed by Vinyl Council of Australia member Tech Plas Extrusions Pty Ltd.
A specialist in custom complex extrusions, New South Wales-based Tech Plas was one of the first signatories to the Council’s PVC Stewardship Program established 15 years ago. One of the Program’s commitments is to apply life cycle thinking to the development of new products.
Five years of intensive research and development has gone into TechBoard, a revolutionary new plank designed to last longer and provide much lower life-cycle costs than timber-based planks, with major environmental and economic benefits in the scaffolding and access industries.
As Andrew Swann, Tech Plas Business Development and Sales Manager, puts it: “We have optimised both profile geometry and material choice to produce a long-lasting, lightweight, recyclable, chemically-inert and customisable product that is an ideal timber alternative.”
Manufactured with a robust hexagonally-reinforced structure, TechBoards are designed to last so they will not swell, are impervious to weather and water, will not corrode and are non-contaminable. Because they won’t degrade over time, Andrew says, maintenance and storage issues and associated costs are significantly reduced.
The company says they are easier and safer to handle, offering weight savings of up to 40% per plank. Their weather-resistance makes maintenance and storage significantly easier by removing the costly requirements for undercover storage and drying.
Within the Australian and New Zealand scaffold industry the use of timber LVL (Laminated Veneer Lumber) boards is commonplace despite being utilised in environments to which they are not compatible, says Andrew. This leads to nearly 1 million m3 of damaged boards going to waste annually and significantly reduced longevity.
“This is a staggering amount of waste that led us to create our own industry-specific solution with sound environmental credentials.” continues Andrew, “However, introducing a new product for a previously-unexplored market meant we had to overcome some challenges.”
Gaining market entry and acceptance required close industry collaboration – not least in ensuring that TechBoard meets all relevant ANZ and international standards, including AS/NZS 1577:2013.
Industry partnerships, including end users, contractors and specifiers, were crucial in gaining acceptance, such as in the water and wastewater treatment sectors. “Once they’d used TechBoard, they loved it,” says Andrew. Further refinement work followed and Tech Plas developed a number of accessories for the internationally-patented 230mm x 40mm TechBoard. These include safety ramps to prevent trip hazards, plank joiners, end caps and conductive accessories to mitigate static build-up.
TechBoard has applications well beyond the scaffolding and access industry uses, such as retaining walls, noise barriers on freeways, boardwalks and pedestrian access – even planking on submarines.
Andrew added: “We’re proud of TechBoard’s lifecycle savings. Capable of lasting five years, being made from PVC means that it can be readily recycled at end-of-life and used to make new TechBoards.
“After five years of use, we aim to recover the used boards for recycling, thereby reducing environmental impact. Our intended recycling process leaves a clear carbon trail for sustainability.”
Vinyl has long been used to meet specific packaging needs due to its excellent transparency and high clarity, an ability to seal and sterilize and because it allows gas transmission important for some food products.
Vinyl (or polyvinyl chloride) packaging is used for clear, handled bottles such as for cordials; clamshells to protect fruit and vegetables, cakes and other food stuffs; and as film for wrapping and protecting fresh meat, dairy and deli products. It is also used as secure blister packaging for products such as batteries, razors, toys, pharmaceuticals and an array of consumer products, and as packaging for the safe delivery of medical products like intravenous fluids.
However, vinyl packaging is a very small proportion (reliable data is hard to come by but it may be 2-4 percent) of all packaging materials (industrial and consumer) used in Australia . Most vinyl is used in long life products, particularly building products including potable water pipe, sewer pipe, conduit, cabling, flooring and window profiles.
Rigid vinyl packaging
Rigid vinyl packaging such as bottles and thermoformed packaging is recyclable when collected from kerbside and sorted from other polymers and packaging materials. Most councils around Australia have included these products in collections for many years.
Post-consumer vinyl bottles are separated out where manual sorting systems operate at Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs) and sent to recyclers. The Vinyl Cycle bottle recycling program that operated for many years until 2012 demonstrated that a recycling rate of over 50% was achieved when vinyl bottles were manually sorted for recycling; however, today very few MRFs operate such systems.
Optical sorting technologies exist based on Near InfraRed cameras that can identify polymer types, including vinyl, and colours (except black). These achieve high purity streams, generally 93-96% for most polymers . In Australia, however, use of such technologies has largely been limited to identifying only the dominant two packaging polymers – PET and HDPE – despite local demand for recovered vinyl for remanufacturing within Australia.
Post-industrial rigid vinyl packaging material such as thermoforming scrap, is sought after as a recyclate for use in other products.
Flexible vinyl packaging
A successful program operates across Australia’s healthcare sector to collect flexible vinyl used in intravenous (IV) bags. The PVC Recycling in Hospitals scheme operates in over 160 healthcare facilities in Australia and New Zealand and collects approximately 15-20 tonnes a month of flexible vinyl packaging, tubing and oxygen masks. This material is reprocessed locally into new long-life products. The success of the program is in part due to the separation at source of the vinyl products, reducing contamination from other polymers and materials.
Unfortunately, there is little if any collection and recycling of post-consumer films and food wrap, regardless of polymer type. This is due to high contamination from dirt and other non-plastic materials, the mix of polymers used to manufacture films including multilayer mixed polymer films and the risk of films entangling and damaging equipment. Nevertheless, the vinyl film industry in Australia has taken actions to reduce raw material use through down-gauging films and continually seeks ways to reduce the life cycle footprint of these products.
Benefits of sorting and recycling vinyl packaging
Clean, separated vinyl waste is relatively easy to recycle as vinyl is a thermoplastic. Vinyl’s melting point is relatively low which means less energy is required for reprocessing it than compared to other polymers, but this is the reason it is considered a ‘contaminant’ in other polymer streams as it burns at higher temperatures.
There is good reason therefore to implement technologies and systems to separate vinyl early in the kerbside waste sorting process.
Using recycled vinyl in new products replaces the use of virgin vinyl compound and reduces the carbon emissions associated with manufacturing virgin vinyl by about 80-85 percent. This significantly lowers the carbon footprint of new vinyl products.
Local manufacturers of vinyl products have indicated that they have an appetite to increase the use of vinyl recyclate if reliable, continuous sources of recyclate are made available. Signatory companies to the long-established PVC Stewardship Program are publicly committed to use recyclate in the products they supply to the market unless product standards prohibit it. The Council therefore welcomes initiatives by MRFs to separate rigid vinyl packaging and some flexibles for local reprocessing and reuse in Australia.
PVC packaging is recyclable as it is collected by most councils and in the healthcare system, can be sorted into a defined stream, can be reprocessed and used as recyclate in new products manufactured in Australia, and has value.
In 2018, the Victorian state’s Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group (MWRRG) provided a $20,000 grant to part fund an investigation into the feasibility of recycling vinyl coated fabrics into roof tiles, one of the product concepts identified in Porject ReMake. The VersrTile project enabled an expert multidisciplinary team led by the Vinyl Council to design and test reprocessing techniques and form prototype roof tiles made from waste billboard skins. The project outcomes included testing the manufactured sample tiles, which found the tiles could resist weathering as required under applicable standards; however, further development is required on the tile prototypes to meet mechanical strength tests required for roof tiles.
A preliminary business case has been developed to understand the financial and production factors that will be required to manufacture these roof tiles economically and to assess their commercially feasibility. The significance of this project is that it identifies a potential reuse of a composite material into a durable, high volume product without the need to separate the polyester fibre from the vinyl.
The Vinyl Council of Australia is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year amid on-going progress in guiding the continuous improvement and sustainable development of the Australian PVC industry.
Founded in 1998, the nation’s peak association for the PVC value chain has made great strides in changing perceptions and advancing the material’s sustainability over the past two decades.
Key achievements include the 2002 launch of the PVC Stewardship Program (PSP) that has been fostering advancements in innovation and sustainability throughout the Australian PVC industry, for both locally-made and imported products and the introduction of the Best Practice PVC third party accreditation scheme for products.
Recognised in rating tools such as Green Star and public and private procurement policies, Best Practice PVC requires strict compliance and has driven change through product global supply chains.
Acknowledged as one of the longest-standing product stewardship programs in Australia with a full life cycle approach, the PSP currently has 47 Signatories representing the majority of the Australian PVC industry. All are committed to driving positive measurable change in five key areas, such as transparency, resource efficiency and safe and sustainable use of additives.
The information and data collected through the program has helped inform industry and stakeholders, influence product design and ensure the Australian PVC industry continues to innovate.
Industry successes include the most stringent manufacturing benchmarks for raw material suppliers; a 98% reduction in lead additive use by Signatories since 2002; compliance by 90% of Signatories with the PVC Industry Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Charter; growing use of PVC recyclate in products placed in the market; research and development of innovative solutions for recycling PVC coated fabrics; and initiation of the recycling of medical devices. As the program evolves year to year, industry is driven to improve performance and reduce the environmental footprint of vinyl products along the entire value chain.
The Council’s thriving PVC Recycling in Hospitals program now operates in 160 hospitals throughout Australia and New Zealand, recycling more than 200 tonnes of high-grade PVC waste each year into new goods, such as playground mats and garden hose. Design of new product applications for the recyclate is currently being explored.
Vinyl Council Chief Executive Sophi MacMillan comments: “We have made major progress over the past two decades with some significant breakthroughs, both in how PVC is perceived and how it is increasingly being specified for sustainable applications. Through our ‘whole of life approach’ to PVC stewardship, today’s vinyl is a sound material choice.”
We have achieved this as an industry, continues Sophi, by ‘working together through a public voluntary commitment to address key aspects of the product life cycle based on credible science and life cycle assessments’.
As a low carbon and durable plastic, PVC provides solutions through its track record of stewardship, alignment with several global Sustainability Development Goals and its potential for circularity. Each tonne of recycled PVC will replace about one tonne of virgin PVC compound in new products, consuming 80% less energy and reducing carbon emissions.
In providing the platform to share information and engage with stakeholders, the PSP has developed partnerships and collaborations that are driving change through the industry and better understanding of supply chains for vinyl products placed on the Australian market.
Sophi adds: “In our 20th anniversary year, we are immensely proud of how far we’ve come on our continuous and evolving journey towards a circular economy for vinyl.”