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A PVC industry recycling strategy for Australia

In Australia, it is estimated that 50,000-70,000 tonnes of recyclable PVC product may go to landfill each year. This is wasted material and represents potential reprocessing opportunities that would generate local employment and business investment. We estimate that about 15% of this total is short-lived material such as packaging and medical products, and 85% is longer life vinyl product like pipe, cable insulation, weatherboard and flooring.

The Council and its members are committed to advancing PVC recovery and recycling. We do this through collaborating with partners, investigating reprocessing technologies, identifying end markets and undertaking trials for new reprocessed product. The Council also holds events and advocates for action beyond 'business as usual'.

The Council and its members have established successful vinyl recycling programs and connected numerous suppliers of PVC waste to recyclers to divert the material from landfill.

The Council's PVC ReSource Summits (2011 and 2015) have engaged diverse and influential stakeholders to explore opportunities to improve cost effective recovery and recycling of end-of-life PVC into new products. Participants at both forums provided vital input to identify strategic priorities so as to address barriers to PVC recycling, improve knowledge, data and expertise, and encourage innovation in reprocessing, product design and recycling capability.

Key elements of the current strategy

Vision: To facilitate growth in sustainable PVC recycling practices in Australia.
Achieved by:
  • Measuring PVC recycling more accurately
  • Facilitating the work of those keen to recycle and establishing systemic change, particularly with members & associates
  • Developing market pull for recoPVC by growing end user demand
  • Increasing the number of reprocessors while improving the viability of  PVC recycling in Australia
  • Encouraging Design for Recycling and promoting consistent recyclate quality

 Some of the major challenges in Australia for recycling PVC were identified as:

    • the low cost of landfill (low deterrent to waste)
    • low cost of virgin polymer
    • disinterest of major waste sorting facilities and recyclers in separating co-mingled plastics for local reprocessing
    • comparative high costs of reprocessing and product development due to market scale
    • minimal government involvement, policies or programs supporting PVC recovery and reprocessing in Australia as PVC is not considered a major waste stream

Strategic outcomes

    • Successfully advocating for continuation of the annual National Plastics Recycling Survey as a source of data
    • Gaining grant funds from NSW Environment Trust to expand research and trials into reprocessing, product design and supply chain solutions for both PVC coated fabric (advertising banners) and commercial vinyl flooring
    • Growing the PVC Recycling in Hospital program
    • Assisting matching parties with PVC waste with recyclers or reusers to divert material from otherwise ending up in landfill
    • Supporting members interested in developing recycling capability

 

Wednesday, 28 June 2017 00:36

Sustainability - Stewardship - Signatories

Current Signatories of the PVC Stewardship Program include:

Current Signatories of the PVC Stewardship Program include:

AFS Systems
Altro APAC
Aluplast
APN Compounding
Armstrong Flooring
Australian Plastic Profiles *
Australian Vinyls Corporation Ltd
Baerlocher (M) Trading Services *
Baxter Healthcare *
Breathe Fresh (Australia)
Brenntag Australia *
Chemiplas Australia *
Chemson Pacific *
CMS Electracom
Cryo Grind (Aust)
Deceuninck Australia
Dunlop Flooring
eXsource 
Forbo
Formosa Plastics Corporation *
Gerflor Australasia *
Integrated Packaging
Iplex Pipelines Aust
Karndean International
Kenbrock Flooring
Pipemakers *
Plastral
Plustec *
Polyflor Australia
Polymer Direct *
Premier Extrusion 
Primaplas *
Profine International Profile Group
PT Asahimas Chemical *
RBM Plastic Extrusions *
Rehau
Rojo Pacific
Sekisui Rib Loc Australia
Serge Ferrari *
Specialty Polymers & Chemicals *
Storm Tech
Sunace Australia *
Tarkett Australia *
Tech Plas Extrusions *
Teknor Apex
The Andrews Group
Veka Plastics (Singapore) PTE LTD
Vinidex *
Welvic Australia
 
* Denotes Signatories that achieved Excellence 2018-19 

Product Stewardship Case-Study: Innovation in the Pipe Industry - Introducing PVC-O

Process innovation yields reduced life cycle impacts of products: Background
Biaxially oriented PVC, or PVC-O pipe, is produced by stretching unplasticised PVC (PVC-U), in both the axial and tangential direction during manufacturing, a process resulting in the polymer chains being oriented into the direction of load instead of randomly distributed. This provides PVC-O with a number of technical advantages compared to other materials, especially when used for pressure pipes. This feature also translates into significant environmental benefits.

The path to innovation
The technology used to produce PVC-O pipe was first developed for commercial production in the 1970s in the UK by Yorkshire Imperial Plastics. Australia was an early adopter of the process, with Vinidex Pty Ltd commencing PVC-O pipe production in 1984. The early version of the manufacturing process was slow and cumbersome, which limited production and adoption by the industry. By the 1990s, a number of companies had begun developing new processes that would significantly increase the output of PVC-O pipe, making it economically and commercially viable. Thanks to their increased efficiency, these new processes became standard procedure, and Australian companies were again on the forefront of adopting these innovations. The 2000s saw continuous improvements of the production process, enabling sizes up to diameter of 400mm to be competitively produced. The most recent developments by Molecor in Spain have pushed the boundary up to 800mm, with 1200mm now being under investigation.

Technical and environmental benefits
The biaxial distribution of the PVC polymer chain leads to significant improvement of its mechanical properties. It renders the final product more resistant to impacts, crack propagation and fatigue loading, as shown in the diagram below.

Figure 1: Mechanical properties comparison between PVC-U and PVC-O
Source: Molecor, retrieved on 24/04/2014.

The enhanced mechanical properties of PVC-O means it is possible to reduce pipe wall thickness compared to other materials for equivalent size and pressure rating. This modification has two significant end results. First of all and most evidently, the amount of PVC compounds required per meter of pipe is reduced, with no change in performance. Additionally, for the same outside diameter, PVC-O pipes have a larger bore, which allows it to move more water, faster than any alternatives. This results in lower environmental impacts associated with the production and transportation, due to reduced weight of the pipe, as well as potential energy savings during the use phase of the pipe. Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) is a methodology used to scientifically assess the environmental impacts of a product over its entire life cycle - from cradle-to-grave.

Widely used today to assess claims of environmental benefits, it has, since its introduction, proved itself as a valid way to compare the environmental impacts of materials, services and products, with the potential of identifying hotspots and helping the user in decision making down the line. In 2009, Edge Environment, a Sydney-based LCA consulting firm, completed an LCA of Australian pipes, comparing various grades of PVC (including PVC-O), other types of plastics (PE, ABS) and other materials (cast iron, ductile iron and copper), for both pressure and non-pressure pipes. When analysing pressure pipe, the study concluded that 'PVC-O pipes performed very significantly better environmentally than all of the alternatives'. The results of the study are reported in the diagram below, and show that environmental impacts of PVC-O pipes are more than twice as low as its closest alternative.

Figure 2: Life Cycle Assessment Results *DI - Ductile Iron

Conclusions
The introduction and development of PVC-O is a prime example of industrial innovation leading to better performances both technically and environmentally.

Reference

Product Stewardship Case-Study: Phasing out lead stabilisers

A collaborative stewardship effort delivers results

"Product Stewardship is an approach to managing the impacts of different products and materials. It acknowledges that those involved in producing, selling, using and disposing of products have a shared responsibility to ensure that those products or materials are managed in a way that reduces their impacts, throughout their lifecycle, on the environment and on human health and safety."
(Department of the Environment, 2013)

Background
In November 2002, 33 companies in the Australian PVC industry signed and publicly released a Product Stewardship Program. The Program documents a series of measures the industry would undertake within defined timeframes to address known concerns about aspects of the PVC life cycle. Since then, Signatories to the Program have made effective and measurable progress. In particular, cadmium based stabilisers have been completely phased out from Signatories’ supply chains, and the phase out of lead stabilisers is nearly complete. This achievement is one of the significant outcomes of the PVC Product Stewardship Program. It proves the effectiveness and relevance of the Program in addressing the environmental impacts of PVC across its life cycle.

Lead – a growing concern
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) is the third most widely used plastic in the world, with a reported global consumption of over 35 million tonnes in 2010 (Chemsystems, 2010).


Figure 1: The life cycle of PVC products

It is a versatile, durable material used in a wide range of applications for building and construction, packaging, medical devices, automotive and consumer products. In Australia, as elsewhere, lead-based stabilisers were commonly used to manufacture PVC for a range of applications, including pipe, electrical cable, footwear and building profiles.
From the 1980s, rising community concerns over toxic heavy metal contamination in the environment and the impact of lead, in particular, on human health led the industry to take action in respect of sensitive end-use product, such as phasing out lead-based stabilisers from all potable water pipes by 1988. It was already avoided in food contact material, toys and medical devices.
Scientific research has shown that in PVC compounds, stabilisers are tightly bound into the polymer matrix and not readily removed. Thus, despite lead-based stabilisers being used in many PVC applications, the CSIRO has found that PVC products account for very little lead in the environment relative to other sources (Smith, R. 1998).
Lead stabiliser compounds are very effective in aiding PVC processing and resilience. Their use forms only a small proportion of the PVC formulation (typically less than two percent by weight) and the risk for consumers from exposure to lead stabilisers in PVC products is very small.
However, potential health and safety risks were identified and acknowledged by the industry in other parts of the PVC life cycle:
1. Potential exposure of workers to lead during upstream manufacturing, a risk which was being addressed and managed through stringent health & safety procedures aimed at minimising exposure risks and monitoring exposure through regular blood tests.
2. Potential leaching in landfill at the end-of-life, although studies had shown that the disposal of PVC in landfill did not contribute significantly to the toxicity of landfill leachate or the concentration of heavy metals in landfill (Mersiowsky et al 1999).

Addressing the issue
In 2002, Signatories to the industry’s new Product Stewardship Program committed as a priority to review the feasibility of phasing out the use of lead-based stabilisers in all applications. The Program provided a platform for all relevant stakeholders in this issue – product manufacturers, stabiliser suppliers and government representatives - to appraise technical issues with substitution and alternative stabiliser systems.


Figure 2: Agreed Timeline

Agreement was then reached in December 2003 to a timetable for eliminating lead stabilisers, as shown on the left.
The industry’s planned action was based on its acknowledgement of the health and community concerns about exposure to lead from all sources and the need to reduce all potential exposure to this toxic heavy metal.
Simultaneously, Signatories committed to phasing out the use of cadmium-based stabilisers in the shorter term, and completed this commitment by 2006.
The Product Stewardship Program allowed for the whole supply chain to engage on the same schedule and towards the same objective removing potential trade disadvantages of unilateral action.

Meeting the challenge
Such commitment would not have been realistic without the considerable research that took place in previous years, and a great deal of testing and evaluation of alternatives in PVC processing.


Figure 3: Lead consumption by PVC Product Stewardship Program Signatories

*Source: Vinyl Council of Australia, Annual reports
Note: the recent increase in lead consumption levels is due to the current activities of a new member, who has committed to phase out lead by end 2014.


Figure 4: Lead and Cadmium phase out timeline

The 1990s saw the development and commercialisation of calcium and zinc based stabilisers, while organic stabilisers were launched in the early 2000s.
These alternatives to lead have undergone official scientific risk assessment by overseas government authorities and there are no health or safety issues related to their use in PVC products.

The Future
Now that the commitment to phase out lead and cadmium additives has nearly been completed by current Signatories, the Program is focusing on two issues: extending the phase out of lead stabilisers to new Signatories and non-Signatories; and managing historical additives in PVC recycling.
A small number of local manufacturers and importers of PVC products, who have not joined the Program, continue to use lead stabilisers. The Program is actively seeking to include all remaining members of the Australian PVC supply chain, who would then have to commit to a timely phase out and report on progress. In addition, the Program advocates to industry sectors to update Australian Standards for relevant products to restrict the use of lead and cadmium based stabilisers.
The Vinyl Council and its members support the recycling of PVC products, even those containing legacy heavy metal stabilisers, into suitable new products to reduce landfill and improve resource efficiency, preferably in ways that encapsulate the recyclate safely within in the new product. A key industry imperative is to ensure that products containing recyclate are safe to use and meet quality standards. Recycling processes also must address health and safety risks for production workers, and meet all regulatory health, safety and environmental requirements.

References
Vinyl Council Australia, PVC Product Stewardship Program: The annual progress report for the Australian PVC Industry's Product Stewardship Program for the years 2005, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 found here

Chemsystems, 2010, Vinyl Chain Market Dynamics report abstract

Department of the Environment, 2013

Smith, R., 1998, The Environmental Aspects of the Use of PVC in Building Products, Second Edition, CSIRO Division of Chemicals and Polymers
Mersiowsky et al., 1999, Long Term Behaviour of PVC Products under Soil Buried and Landfill Conditions, Plastics, Rubber and Composites, Vol 28, Issue 7, pp 321-326
The development of these alternatives was essential to phasing out lead and cadmium additives from the supply chain.

Further information
The Vinyl Council of Australia (VCA) was founded in 1998. VCA is a member based association with the primary goal of advancing and strengthening the sustainability of the Australian PVC industry. Members of the association represent the full spectrum of the PVC supply chain. As part of its goal, the VCA founded the Product Stewardship Program in 2002, to which all members are Signatories. The Program sought to address a number of environmental, health and safety concerns over the PVC lifecycle, one of which was the use of lead additives in the PVC supply chain, with the goal to completely phase out its use within 10 years.

For further information, please contact the Product Stewardship Program at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Case Studies

Learn about actions undertaken by VCA members' and Product Stewardship Program Signatories in advancing the sustainability of the PVC supply chain in 

    • A little history of product innovation in the pipe industry (2014).
      Biaxially oriented PVC, or PVC-O, pipe is a product that that is quickly gaining momentum in the pipe industry due to its recognised superior mechanical properties. Learn how an innovative process in the PVC industry led to products requiring less material inputs while showing superior properties.
    • PIPA members recycle PVC pipes into new products (2011)
      A Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities case study showcases how the Plastic Industry Pipe Association (PIPA) has worked with two of its members to increase the rate of PVC pipe recycling in Australia.

 

Look for the logo!

Only Signatories to the PVC Stewardship Program that are compliant with at least 50% of relevant commitments are entitled to use the VCA's logos shown below, recognising their involvement and plans to meet relevant Program commitments.

 

 PVCSshipVertLogoGradRGB

Signatories identified as meeting  allrelevant Program commitments, relevant to their business, are recognised as achieving excellence in the PVC Stewardship Program. They are entitled to use the 'Excellence' logo in the year following reporting. For example, a company that is 100% compliant based on 2018-19 calendar year.

 

PVCStewardship Excellence 18 19

 

Look for either of these logos when specifying PVC products in Australia as a sign that these product suppliers are implementing sound product stewardship practices.

Become a Signatory

Are you are part of the PVC supply chain and want to keep up with the evolution of the industry? Do you want to become part of a proactive group of companies with a strong focus on sustainability and an international network?

 

JOIN US !

We strongly encourage any company with a role in the PVC supply chain in Australia, whether it is through the manufacture or import of PVC resin, additives or end-products, or via providing services to the industry, to join the Vinyl Council of Australia.

Being a member of the Vinyl Council will offer your business the opportunity to take part in free events organised and promoted by our organisation, to receive regular updates on industry development (in Australia and overseas) and scientific research, and to network with other representatives of the PVC industry supply chain.

New members are expected to become Signatories of the Product Stewardship Program. You only need to comply with the sections of the Program relevant to your business; we can work with you to understand what those commitments are and a reasonable timeframe for coming up to speed.

The Program aims to encourage transparency and life cycle thinking. Each year your company will be asked to contribute stories and achievements to a public report showcasing the progress of the industry.

Once committed to the Program, it is a requirement to report data showing compliance against commitments. Failure to comply with the Program's obligations may lead to the removal of a Signatory. This is not something we take lightly, as it could have serious repercussions on the industry as a whole. If your company becomes a Program Signatory we will expect you to walk the talk.

Applications from companies and organisations who wish to join the Program are reviewed within 60 days, and approval will not be unreasonably withheld or delayed. The name of new Signatory organisation will be included in the list of Signatories on the Vinyl Council's website and in the annual progress reports. Signatories may use the Program trademark on their products or marketing material to indicate that it is a Signatory to the Program once it is compliant with at least 50% of the commitments relevant to their businesses.

Please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you are interesting in joining the Vinyl Council of Australia or would like more information.

Best Practice PVC Product Register 

 No listings

Best Practice PVC Product Register

Best Practice PVC Products:
CMS Electracom "Quick Flex" series 3, 5 & 6 pole Soft Wiring cable
CMS Electracom "SW52" series 3 pole Soft Wiring cable
CMS Electracom "J" series 3 pole Soft Wiring cable

Contact Us
CMS Electracom
24 Binney Road, Kings Park, NSW 2148
Tel: 02 8814 8133
www.cmselectra.com.au

Current BEP PVC verification expires 13 February 2020

 

Best Practice PVC Products:

Brands: Garland Pro Series, Roadworx

Cables: (Security, Data, Building Management,
Instrumentation/Control, LAN/Networking, Coaxial, Audio
and Power Cables,) with PVC insulation and/or sheath.

 

  

Contact Us
Madison Technologies
51 Barclay Road, Derrimut, VIC 3026
Tel: 03 9389 3903
Mob: 0437 377 444
www.madisontech.com.au

Current BEP PVC verification expires 29 October 2021

Best Practice PVC Product Register

Best Practice PVC for AS/NZS 1260 DWV, AS/NZS 1254 Stormwater, AS/NZS 1477 Pressure pipes, AS/NZ 4441 PVC-O Pressure pipes, AS/NZ 4765 PVC-M pressure pipes:

 

Australian Plastic Profiles Pty. Ltd.
12 Cawarra Rd, Caringbah, NSW, 2229
Tel: 02 9527 8800
www.app.net.au

Current BEP PVC verification expires
19 March 2020

 

Iplex Pipelines Pty Ltd
Level 21 Tower B 821 Pacific Highway Chatswood
NSW 2067
www.iplexpipelines.com.au

Current BEP PVC verification expires
20 February 2020

 

Pipemakers Australia Pty Ltd
112 Landseer Street Acacia Ridge Queensland 4110
Tel: 07 3344 3377
www.pipemakers.com.au

Current BEP PVC verification expires
20 February 2020

 

Marley (NZ)
32 Mania Road, Manurewa, AUCKLAND
Tel: +64 9 279 2799
www.marley.co.nz

Current BEP PVC verification expires
21 December 2021

 Vinidex by Aliaxis BEST 2019 logo

Vinidex Pty Ltd
Level 4, 26 College Street, Darlinghurst NSW 2010
T: 13 11 69 or (02) 8278 0500
www.vinidex.com.au

Current BEP PVC verification expires
20 February 2020

 TECHPLAS Logo Horizontal BW NEW

Tech Plas Extrusions Pty Ltd
321 Wentworth Ave Pendle Hill NSW 2145
02 9636 6755
www.techplas.com.au

Current BEP PVC verification expires
16 Jan 2021

 

 

For Agricultural Pipes:

 

Marley (NZ)
32 Mania Road, Manurewa, AUCKLAND
Tel: +64 9 279 2799

Current BEP PVC verification expires
21 December 2021