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Breakthroughs with recycling advertising banners in Australia

For several months, a dedicated team led by the Vinyl Council has been making progress with the challenges of recycling advertising billboard skins. The team has achieved critical breakthrough results, some world ‘firsts’ and gained positive support from industry.

Currently over 1,200,000 m2 (500 tonnes) of advertising billboard skins go to landfills around Australia every year at a significant cost to business and as a waste of durable materials. Having promoted the latest blockbuster movie or a government safety message, the skins take up valuable space in landfills.

The challenge is that the skins are made of two excellent polymers (vinyl as a coating over woven polyester) which are hard to separate and reprocess - which is exactly why they are so suited for all weathers and conditions; they are UV and tear-resistant, waterproof, colour-fast, can be welded and are very tough. This is similar for other vinyl coated fabrics, including truck tarpaulins and grain covers, all of which currently go to landfill in Australia (total over 6,000 tonnes combined per year) and in most countries around the world.

In Europe, there is a €20M plant used to reprocess such material back to its constituent polymers. That solvent-based technology is not viable in Australia so the only option is to innovate and find economically viable alternative approaches and new products.

To support the research into this challenge, earlier this year the NSW Environment Trust has invested together with industry to enable collaboration between a team of keen and brilliant minds.

“Our team comprises skilled research assistants in chemistry at UNSW, industrial designers at Monash University, highly experienced PVC converters at Welvic Australia, innovative and successful manufacturers in PMG Engineering, and supplier Rojo Pacific who is keen to lead the advertising industry to a more sustainable future” explains Helen Millicer, Manager of the Industry Recycling Strategy at the Vinyl Council of Australia.

Together, the Vinyl Council and the Outdoor Media Association are providing industry-wide engagement and coordination.

“This problem is too big to do it alone and therefore we are delighted to have received funding support from the NSW Environment Trust as part of the NSW EPA’s Waste Less, Recycle More initiative” Helen added.

“A grant like this, that supports innovation and reprocessing in Australia, is a game changer. It means that we can manage a focused and properly resourced project with contributing partners to find viable products and end-market alternatives and thereby prevent loss of quality material to landfill.”

The outcome of the funded trials, research and testing has led to two innovative Australian mechanical recycling technologies, one of which is proceeding to patent.

Product design students on the team have produced several prototype industrial designs taking advantage of the features of the material, including highway sound barriers, children’s push bikes, and floor safety mats. Trials have also worked with cut, woven and reformed material and material welded into molds to create a stronger fabric skin. Reprocessed material has been trialled for 3-D printing in another world ‘first’.  

These developments have already led to specifications for a packaging product for trial with a major multinational company.

“Importantly, companies in the advertising industry met at an Industry Forum in Sydney in October and have given the green light to continue the project, to collaborate and contribute to finding a viable solution for recycling billboard skins in Australia”.

“We are delighted to have a team of brilliant minds, innovators and leaders in their fields contributing their time, expertise and facilities to find low cost solutions to this world-wide problem and sad waste of materials,” said Helen Millicer.

To complete the project in the next few months, the design prototypes will be finished and exhibited. A report will be published summarising the economics of collection, reprocessing and remaking of the billboard skins and the chemical and mechanical test results.

While this project has focussed on advertising banners in the first instance, it leads to the possibility of applying findings to other coated fabrics.  

For more information and photos contact:
Helen Millicer, Project Manager, Industry Recycling Strategy, Vinyl Council of Australia This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.,
0413 875 872, and

Lifting construction industry productivity and efficiency

A May 2016 report from the World Economic Forum titled Shaping the Future of Construction: A Breakthrough in Mindset and Technology highlighted the “moral obligation” of the engineering and construction industry to lift its game in terms of productivity and efficiency.

With aging infrastructure in developed countries and the needs of a rapidly growing urban population in developing regions, combined with the scale of resource consumption, emissions and waste currently existing in the construction sector, the industry has vast potential to make significant economic, social and environmental contributions. However, at a global level, productivity in the sector has remained largely stagnant for decades.

The WEF report discusses what holds the industry back and the risks of market disruption. It also speaks to the opportunities that already exist to improve project delivery and life cycle performance of the built environment through adoption of digitalisation; the take up of innovative technologies, materials and tools; and the use of new construction techniques and processes.

An “extremely powerful lever for innovation is that of construction materials” the report stated. The industry is the largest global consumer of raw materials (50 per cent of global steel production and more than 3 billion tonnes of raw materials). The built environment is also a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. This surely presents great opportunities for disruptive technologies. Advanced building materials will allow us to do more with less, using better, lean building processes.

Examples are given, including new material combinations with additional multi-functional characteristics; standardised, modular and prefabricated construction and just-in-time pull of resources.

With this is mind, it is good to see Australian manufacturing capacity in PVC permanent formwork systems continues to grow strongly as this construction technology gains ground and contributes to productivity gains.

Carlos Cagliero of Verve Constructions is managing a project which made a last-minute decision to switch to Vinyl Council member, AFS System's PVC permanent formwork wall construction, illustrating the potential efficiencies that can be gained through this emerging construction technology.

Stage 1 of a 407-apartment multi-residential project in Bundoora, Victoria, the project’s three-level basement was originally designed with precast concrete panels. However, it soon became apparent that this would require a turnaround of about four weeks to cover the development and review of shop drawings, production of panels and delivery of the panels to the site. This was problematic as it would cause a delay to the construction program, so Cagliero looked for another solution that would still meet the structural drawing requirements. He selected polymer-based permanent formwork.

As a result, there was a dramatic improvement in lead time as no shop drawings were required, the product was delivered to site in five days from order, and no cranes were required to install it. It required no contractor training for handling and construction, although like use of any new product, it required a little time to get going, Cagliero said. However, from order to completion took just two weeks.

“It resolved the problem and importantly allowed us to maintain our construction program,” Cagliero said.

Approximately 1600 square metres of the extruded PVC formwork was used to construct the basement walls and the lift core to ground level. Compliant to AS3600, this type of wall system is continuously reinforced. As a major benefit, no waterproofing was required despite a large retaining wall section. No caulking of joints was necessary either.

Also saving time was the fact that 70 per cent of the formwork has been left exposed in the basement areas, Cagliero added. After being cleaned off, the white panels are more attractive than blockwork and more reflective from a lighting perspective, he said, so it needed no painting in these areas.

Around the three levels of the basement lift core, it is “working perfectly” Cagliero explained, as it merged with the precast concrete panels above because the two systems are the same thickness, and the Macrender used on the PVC panels here has come up well, he added.

As this project – now a month away from completion – has shown, permanent PVC formwork can significantly improve construction productivity by reducing lead times and reducing installation costs, processes and time.

This type of wall system is most suited to basement scenarios and divisions between lower ground floors and basements, party walls, columns, retention tanks, stair cores, service and stormwater pits.

Article originally published in 21 October 2016


VCA member a winner of European innovation award

Vinyl Council of Australia member, Chemson Pacific Pty Ltd has taken home the 2016 INOVYN Gold Award for Innovation with Vinyls for its project to formulate and engineer 3-D vinyl to be used as a cost effective and sustainable raw material in 3-D printing.

Chemson's project was researched and conducted in Australia and launched at our conference, PVC AUS 2016, in May. 3-D VinylTM compound has global application.

Managing Director of Chemson Pacific, Greg Harrison, on receiving the award at a special ceremony held at ‘K2016’, Europe's flagship fair of the plastics and rubber industries, said: “It's really an honour to have won this award and to be recognised by INOVYN for our contribution to PVC.  We have a great belief in sustainability. We believe that we will now take PVC into the new world of Advanced Manufacturing. It's definitely an opportunity for us, and it's a sustainable opportunity.”

INOVYN Awards judge Dr. Keith Watkinson commented on 3-D VinylTM saying “This development opens up many exciting opportunities for PVC in additive manufacturing. The unique properties of UV and fire resistance will permit many new products to be created.”

Chemson Pacific was a founding member of the Vinyl Council of Ausutralia in 1998 and has been a signatory to the PVC Stewardship Program in Australia since it began in 2002. Based at Eastern Creek, NSW the company manufactures stabilisers for the local PVC manufacturing industry.

The INOVYN Awards 2016 attracted entrants from around the world including manufacturers; distributors; product specifiers; architects and designers; students; academics and research organisations.  More than 70 projects were competing for the top accolades in three award categories: Innovation; Sustainability; and Industrial Design.

Winner of the ‘Sustainability’ category was UK-based Axion Consulting for its RecoMed PVC take-back scheme that recycles PVC used in healthcare. This scheme was initiated and developed after learning of the PVC Recycling in Hospitals program the Vinyl Council had initiated in Australia.

The winners in each award category were selected by an independent panel of expert judges comprised leading figures from the world of sustainable development; materials science; life-cycle assessment; industrial design and architecture; and the media. For more information visit

K2016 is being held in Düsseldorf (Germany) until 26 October 2016.

It’s time to make the change to uPVC windows

Although we have seen a steady increment over the past five years, the uPVC window sector in Australia currently represents just 4-5 percent of the total window market here. Nevertheless, there is an expectation from most quarters of the industry that uPVC windows will become increasingly popular, just as they have in other major regions such as the US and Europe.

During his recent visit to Australia, we talked to Dr Peter Mrosik, owner/CEO of Profine GmbH – one of Europe’s leading producers of uPVC window profiles – for his views on what is holding back this market and what we might learn from the experience of other countries.

Peter explained that education of Australian consumers to understand that double-glazed uPVC windows offer benefits unmet by standard aluminium windows is paramount. They are still a relatively unknown product here.

It is also important, he said, to educate specifiers such as architects, particularly to raise awareness of the existence of high UV resistant profiles formulated for the Australian and other high UV markets. Many architects and designers are unsure about the suitability and benefits of uPVC windows in this country and the types of buildings and locations they are ideally suited to. Yet they are long lasting, low maintenance, resistant to salty coastal environments and can even be used in bushfire prone areas.  We hope that the uPVC Window Alliance website is a start in this process of sharing information.

Thirty – 40 years ago, the US and European markets saw significant and rapid growth of uPVC windows as manufacturers of aluminium products switched to uPVC, particularly in the face of government-mandated building energy efficiency requirements. Today, uPVC accounts for roughly 70 percent of all window sales in the US nationally; in Europe it is 55 percent. These changes were driven by preference for low maintenance, well insulated windows at a time of increasingly stringent building energy performance standards.

“uPVC windows are simply a better product,” Peter explained. “The market has started to move in Australia as it has in other countries, like China and India.”

However, Australia still lags major overseas markets when it comes to mandatory energy efficiency performance standards and codes. Even China, Peter pointed out, has government policies that are driving use of higher performing windows. Recognising the importance of energy efficient door and window products, Chinese energy codes set energy efficiency requirements for doors and windows, which has helped to drive take-up of higher performing products. For example, the maximum U-value permitted for windows in the country’s severe cold region has been 2.0 W/m2K since as far back as 1995! In 2010, this was reduced to a maximum of 1.5 W/m2K, raising the bar again on window performance.

Meanwhile, in Germany where Peter’s based, the government is moving new-build houses closer to the Passivhaus standard as its overall building energy policy moves in line with the nearly-zero energy standard required by the European Buildings Directive.

Although rates of use of insulated or double-glazing are growing in Australia, there is a lack of building energy policy drivers to encourage use of higher performing windows. As our recent article showed, of the Window Energy Rating System (WERS)-rated residential window products offered in Victoria, considered a heating climate, almost half have U values of 4 W/m2K or more. Less than 3 percent of products offered have U values under 2.0 W/m2K.  

The most energy efficient window frame materials are those that will not transfer heat and cold, such as uPVC.

The change has started. Be part of it!

Wednesday, 19 July 2017 01:19

Circular solutions for outdoor media

The Vinyl Council of Australia and the Outdoor Media Association (OMA) are looking to create a more sustainable future for Australia's billboard industry by showcasing ways to recycle PVC billboard skins and convert them into useful products.

At an event on 11 October 2016, hosted by the OMA in Sydney, participants will learn about the cooperative research work currently underway with industry and research students at the Universities of Monash and NSW aimed at exploring viable, billboard waste recovery and reprocessing practices and the development of product and material prototypes made from the waste.

The project has been funded by the NSW Environment Trust, as part of NSW EPA’s Waste Less Recycle More strategy. Each year, large amounts of billboard skins go to landfill at a significant cost to businesses and the environment.

The Billboard Vinyl Recycling Forum in October will discuss current progress in developing solutions to enable these valuable materials to enter the circular economy.

Vinyl Council member and PVC Stewardship Program signatory, Welvic Australia has been awarded funding from the Victorian Government and the Australian Packaging Covenant to invest in innovative technology to divert PVC from landfill.

This matching funding will enable Welvic to expand and improve production to reprocess between 800-1000 tonnes of PVC a year. This will mean they will become one of the largest reprocessors and recyclers of PVC and along with other businesses, will ensure Victoria is the powerhouse in PVC recycling in Australia.

Welvic already receives common PVC items such as medical IV bags and they are exploring new opportunities such as advertising banners, and this will expand once the new plant is commissioned. High quality PVC recyclate is expertly mixed with compounds and can be returned for its original use or used in a large array of new product, such as industrial hoses and mats.

"This is a great example of what we can achieve through innovation and technology - Welvic can take what was once 'waste' and turn it into something valuable and new," Sustainability Victoria CEO, Stan Krpan said.

"It's particularly valuable in recycling flexible plastics, which is one of six priority materials identified in the recently released Victorian Market Development Strategy for Recovered Resources.

Welvic Director, Matthew Hoyne said "PVC recycling deserves to have a strong future in Australia. This grant is a good step forward improving Australia's capacity to reprocess a wide array of PVC products so we can deliver and support manufacturers with high quality recyclate and help them improve their competitive position in local and international markets."

The VCA is thrilled to announce that thePVC in Hospitals Recycling Program- that started in Melbourne in 2009 and is now going global - has been judged a finalist in the2016 Victorian Premier's Sustainability Awards.  This is great timing in the lead up to our openForumon the program running onTues 4 October. 

Victorian partners in this world leading initiative, in addition to the hundreds of staff, nurses and anaesthetists across 80 hospitals and healthcare facilities, are:

Western Hospital;
VCA members: Baxter Healthcare, Welvic Australia, and Aces Medical Waste; and
Cryo Grind.

Additional interstate and international partners are Matta Products (NZ), Statewide Waste Services (NSW) and Stateline (Tas).

Winners will be announced in Melbourne on Thurs 20 Oct 2016.  

The VCA extends a big thank you and three cheers to all!

50 million IV bags made from PVC are consumed every year in Australia. They serve an incredibly valuable service to thousands of people undergoing medical care and dialysis. And when they have been used, they should not go to waste.

Such PVC medical products are recyclable and the material is a valued, quality recyclate by donwstream manufacturers.

Today, following growth in a world-leading Australian recycling initative - PVC Recycling in Hospitals - high volume items such as face masks, IV bags and oxygen tubes are being collected and recycled from over 80 hospitals and healthcare facilities in Australia and New Zealand. And the number of participating facilities is growing.

Join our upcomingForumwith expert panel presenters to understand how to implement this program in your healthcare facility and help to take PVC Recycling in Hospitals to the next level.

When: Tues 4 Oct, 8.15-12 noon

Where: Melbourne Exhibition Centre.

Click for details and to register.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017 01:07

PVC a star in sports arenas

Soccer is popular across the world, with prestigious tournaments like the European Cup 2016 viewed by hundreds of millions of people all over the world. Now the Olympic Games are commencing. But greater than the games themselves are the stadia which host them.

A stadium is then not just a venue but adds to the entire “brand-value” package of the city where it is located. It is little wonder then that hundreds of millions are spent on stadia as they are a visible part of the game itself. The Allianz Riviera Stadium, also known as Grand Stade de Nice, was one of the venues of the European Cup 2016. The stadium, designed by Wilmotte & Associés, cost an estimated €245 million. Resembling a flying bird, Allianz Riviera is a magnificent piece of architecture that fits snugly with its surroundings in the middle of the Eco-Vallee, an ambitious long-term development plan for the Plaine du Var centered on sustainability.

One important aspect of stadia are the spectacular roofs, the construction of which creates memorable, emotional connections between the building and its visitors. Roofs that seem to float above the action or that allow looking far into the distance are the crowning achievement of every sports facility.

Plastics, and PVC in particular, have become one of the most widely used materials in building stadia. Flexible PVC is particularly important and can be found in many different applications. Its cost efficiency, durability and light weight make it ideal for roofs and flooring in permanent and temporary sports venues but also in a large variety of sporting goods. PVC membranes add to the modern look of the stadium while protecting the spectators from harsh sunlight and rain. And when it’s time for replacement, PVC can be re-used and recycled into new applications.

The FIFA World Cup 2014 was hosted in 12 different Brazilian cities where seven stadiums were newly built and five were renovated, most of them using virgin and recycled PVC. For example, the petal-shaped roof of the Arena das Dunas in Natal was completely coated with PVC on one side. The Arena Pantanal, which replaced the Stadium Governador José Fragelli in Cuiabá, used a fire-resistant PVC membrane on the inside as well as a waterproof PVC membrane on the outside of its roof. PVC membranes were chosen as part of an airy architecture making use of natural light and cross ventilation to save energy.

Olympic Games always require extensive construction work for the host city. A little known aspect is the extent of recycled PVC in stadium construction now. Recognising the great potential of PVC, the Commission for Sustainable London 2012 even established a dedicated policy for its use - a major contrast to the Sydney 2000 Games, where policies were set to avoid the use of PVC.

Material used in constructing various temporary sports and games facilities for the London Olympics were eventually recycled and found their way even into primary schools as flooring systems!

The recycling of vinyl roofs starts with the removal of the old membrane from the facility. The membrane is then packaged and consolidated and shipped to a facility where it is processed into a form that can be reintroduced into the new product manufacturing stream. Vinyl is an excellent candidate for recycling because the old roofing material is easily introduced into the raw material base for the manufacturing of new roofing membranes and accessories.

Clearly, the preference for PVC and the sheer amounts currently in use for stadium construction affirms the successful path to sustainable development the PVC industry has taken. And is a testament to the inherent qualities and robustness of the material.

Source: European Council of Vinyl Manufacturers, August 2016

Wednesday, 19 July 2017 01:04

New recycling strategy for PVC in Australia

The Vinyl Council has updated its industry strategy aimed at facilitating growth in sustainable PVC recycling practices in Australia. 

Developed through consultations with members, industry and government, and at the PVC ReSource Summit held in late 2015, the strategy will direct future actions of the Vinyl Council and the sector.

PVC - the third most commonly used polymer in Australia - is recyclable, however, results show that only low volumes of PVC wastes are recovered, largely because most PVC is used in durable products, and less in packaging (which is where most waste and recycling policies and resources are focussed).

The VCA estimates around 66,900 tonnes ofrecyclablePVC product goes to landfill each year. This is wasted material that could be reprocessed into new quality product by Australian workers and firms, improving Australian productivity, economy and the environment.

The VCA and its members are committed to advancing PVC recycling and reprocessing. The updated industry strategy aims to address barriers, to share knowledge, data and expertise and to encourage innovation of reprocessing, product design and recycling capability.

Key elements in the 2016 Strategy

There are six parts to the strategy and three especially form the foundation: 

  1. Data and information. More data and knowledge are required for effective recycling of PVC.
  2. Collaboration between willing partners to drive change. Systemic change requires partners working together, and strong PVC reprocessing capability is required in all key States.
  3. End markets, without which there is no viable recycling practice. This requires building connections between demand and supply, development of appropriate recyclate-absorbing products and encouraging substitution of virgin or other less sustainable materials.

The VCA has established successful vinyl recylcing programs including the PVC Recycling in Hospitals program which is now in place at over 60 Australian hospitlas. The VCA thanks all those who contribute to the success of PVC recycling in Australia and looks forward to working with many to achieve the actions for improved results for Australia's recycling rate, productivity and manufacturing future. 

For more detail on the Strategy contact the Vinyl Council's This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..