While we can't wait to get stuck into 2022, before we get ahead of ourselves we want to reflect on what happened in 2021 and just some of the key achievements we reached across the year. Here are 12 of our biggest moments from 2021!
1. Encouraged a new record in PVC Stewardship Program compliance
2021 saw a new record of 24 Signatories (over half) in the previous reporting period demonstrate full compliance with their applicable sustainability objectives as part of our voluntary PVC Stewardship Program, with 83% of Signatories overall achieving at least 80% compliance with the respective commitments. The full progress report from the last reporting period can be accessed by clicking here.
2. Started the TexBack pilot recycling project
Following receipt of the first tranche of the grant from the National Product Stewardship Investment Fund, in 2021 work began on TexBack – a project in collaboration with the Specialised Textiles Association to research and develop a product stewardship scheme for PVC-coated textiles (PCT). TexBack will trial world-first technology for separating PVC from polyester with the aim to produce quality recyclate streams from PCT waste. A Materials Stocks and Flows report was completed in the second half of 2021 to provide data on PCT consumption and waste generation, the PVC Separation pilot plant was commissioned in late 2021 and the modelling by independent experts of the business case and scheme design has commenced.
3. Reached a new participation milestone in our PVC Recycling in Hospitals scheme
2021 saw our successful PVC Recycling in Hospitals scheme operated with members Baxter Healthcare and Welvic Australia pass a significant milestone of 250 participating healthcare facilities around the country, with 265 involved by end of year. Although volumes have been lower, the program has continued to operate throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and has expanded into regional areas including Rockhampton, QLD and Albury, WA.
4. Signed a memorandum of understanding with the US Vinyl Sustainability Council
In early 2021, the VCA signed a memorandum of understanding with the Vinyl Sustainability Council in the US to share best practices and learnings from our respective sustainability programs and collaborate on their development. Read more here. The VCA also remains an active member of the Asia Pacific Vinyl Network (current Vice-Chair) and the Global Vinyl Council.
5. Secured important advocacy outcomes to underpin the uPVC windows market
In 2021, following lengthy advocacy efforts by our uPVC Window Alliance and allied groups, we finally saw energy efficiency stringency of the National Construction Code lift with mandatory 7-star requirements for most homes to come into force in NCC 2022. We also conducted a major campaign to have the Australian Buildings Code Board review the requirement for uPVC windows to meet non-combustibility standards for buildings with 3 or more storeys. By year end, the ABCB had confirmed this will be on their work agenda for 2022-23. We have also engaged with fire consulting engineers to develop both short and long term industry solutions.
With our continued communication campaigns, including the development of a short video installation guide and testimonial videos by a builder, member product placement in a reality TV show, Australian project case studies and media and editorials promoting benefits of uPVC windows in Australia, we have seen continued growth across the sector according to our annual uPVC window market data. We achieved a second member accreditation under the Industry Code of Practice for UV weathering resistance and the New Year will see the commencement of recycling of window profile off cuts commence.
6. Secured ongoing recognition of Best Practice PVC in the new Green Star Buildings rating tools and Responsible Products Framework
Through ongoing engagement with the Green Building Council of Australia, in late 2021 recognition of the Best Practice PVC scheme in their new Green Star Buildings tools and Responsible Products Framework was published on their website. All PVC building products used in Green Star projects will need to show verified compliance with Best Practice PVC. With member input, an updated version of the scheme has been drafted to align more closely with our PVC Stewardship Program and is currently out for consultation with third party assessors. The new scheme will increase the points awarded to products under the Responsible Products Framework and GBCA has passed responsibility for managing the scheme to the VCA.
7. Developed a Recycled PVC Content Claim Authentication Draft Standard in conjunction with ecolabel, GECA
To continue our initiatives to drive a circular economy for PVC, in late 2021 we shared for consultation the Draft Standard and claim authentication process for stakeholder feedback, which when finalised will aid specifiers, procurers and consumers in the identification of vinyl products with recycled content, as well as provide a means for manufacturers to gain recognition for contributing to the PVC circular economy.
8. Issued multiple submissions and industry positioning statements to promote and protect the PVC sector
During 2021 we continued to press government and industry bodies to promote the worth of PVC and protect the industry from adverse regulation and undue public commentary. This included submissions and industry statements regarding the National Construction Code, State and Federal packaging and plastics waste policies, chemical management, circular economy strategy, the Government-commissioned Hazardous Waste report, New Zealand packaging legislation, Australian waste plastic exportation legislation and much more. We also participated in a number of stakeholder forums to represent the industry in areas such as chemicals, waste and recycling, and sustainable building.
9. Raised the Council’s presence on social media to further promote the PVC industry
In 2021 we gained over 200 new followers on LinkedIn from industry participants and stakeholders across the sector, which provides a far-reaching platform to continue promoting industry products, information and achievements to our followers and the broader public. If you’re not already, make sure to follow us at Vinyl Council of Australia.
10. Kept a broad range of industry representatives informed
Despite a lack of in-person events due to the ongoing pandemic, we were still able to hold a number of virtual webinars in 2021 which were attended by over 350 VCA members and industry stakeholders across the year, and featured industry relevant topics including:
- Waste Plastic Export rules
- Global PVC market update and carbon emissions
- Green Star changes to product assessments
- Climate Active Certification
- Advances in Extrusion Technologies
- Freight challenges
- Window market trends and conditions
- ANL presentation
- recoPVC presentation
11. Assisted in the establishment of the Permanent Formwork Industry Council
The Permanent Formwork Industry Council was established in late 2021 as an initiative of VCA members Dincel and AFS/CSR to focus on developing industry standards and installation training for PVC formwork. VCA will provide secretariat support to PFIC and will work in conjunction with the organisation to support industry advocacy, sustainability and issues management.
12. Confirmed the dates for PVC AUS 2022
Following its postponement in 2020 and 2021, we are delighted to confirm that PVC AUS 2022: Shared Horizons will bring the industry together for the first time in four years when it takes place from 7-9 June 2022 on the Gold Coast, Queensland. If you are not already registered, make sure to keep your eye out for registrations re-opening soon!