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The start of 2022 has seen PVC recycling in healthcare expanding to more regional areas of Australia, including Albany in WA and Rockhampton in QLD, with more than 280 hospitals currently participating in the Vinyl Council of Australia’s initiated program.

Single-use plastics play a vital, life-saving role in healthcare, such as intravenous fluid bags, oxygen masks and tubing. Their ability to be recycled, through schemes like the PVC Recycling in Hospitals program, is diverting increasing volumes of this high-quality, medical grade material from landfill for recycling back into new, useful products. Since 2015, the program has recycled over 545 tonnes of these products – equivalent to over 27 million IV bags.

Despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic reducing elective surgery in most states and causing program suspensions in Tasmania, participation in the PVC Recycling in Hospitals program has grown nationally. The latest data shows that over the last two years, more than 60 hospitals Australia-wide have signed up.

Although 2021 waste collection volumes (119 tonnes) were slightly down on the 2020 figures (129 tonnes) due to pandemic disruption, the program continues to play an important role as life starts to return to normality.

Launched in 2013, the PVC Recycling in Hospitals Program collects and recycles non-infectious oxygen masks and tubing and Baxter IV fluid bags from theatres, recovery wards, intensive care units, dialysis and day procedure units. The recovered PVC is reused in a variety of new applications from garden hose to new gumboots.

Although 2021 volumes were down on the previous year due to the pandemic, the 119 tonnes collected were equivalent to 5.95 million IV fluid bags. The Vinyl Council, along with program partners Baxter Healthcare and recycler Welvic Australia, have a target for the program of the equivalent of 50 million IV bags recycled within Australia over a five-year period until 2025.

Reducing contamination and increasing collection at existing hospitals by ensuring the program is implemented correctly will be key focus areas in achieving this target. Separating PVC products from non-PVC products where the waste is generated leads to a higher volume of waste being diverted from landfill. It also produces a higher quality of PVC recyclate by minimising contamination from other materials.

Vinyl Council of Australia Chief Executive, Sophi MacMillan comments: “Our program is playing a leading role in lowering the amount of recyclable single-use plastic used in healthcare going into landfill, thereby reducing its environmental impact.

“We are delighted with the program’s progress, despite the challenging times. We thank everyone for their ongoing involvement and enthusiasm for the program.

“The sustained increase in hospital participation and collection efforts in recent months is encouraging. We hope that with rising participation the 50 million target remains in reach and recycling volumes increase back up to pre-Covid levels again throughout early to mid 2022.”

Since its launch, the Vinyl Council of Australia’s successful medical waste recycling program has inspired similar schemes in eight other countries, such as South Africa, Canada, the European VinylPlus PVCMed initiative and RecoMed in the UK. For more information contact 03 9510 1711, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or follow @VCAustralia.

Collaboration towards a circular economy for PVC, the journey towards net zero carbon and safe and sustainable additives will be among key topics discussed by a host of global experts at PVC AUS 2022, Australia’s premier vinyl conference, in Queensland from 7 to 9 June 2022.

Organised by the Vinyl Council of Australia at The Hilton, Surfers Paradise, the two-day conference brings together Australasia’s vinyl value chain to discuss key trends, issues and sustainability challenges influencing the region’s PVC sector.

The comprehensive two-day program themed around ‘Shared Horizons’ will feature policy, technical and case-study presentations along with panel discussions from a range of local and international expert speakers, as well as opportunities to network with key decision makers across the industry.

Supporting the event are headline sponsors Formosa Plastics Corporation, a vertically integrated supplier of plastic resin, fibre and petrochemicals, plastics extrusion technology leaders Battenfeld-Cincinnati and Greiner Extrusion GmbH, and powder handling specialists Idealtec. Gold sponsors are Akdeniz Chemson, Baerlocher, Deceuninck and Sun Ace.

Announcing the comprehensive program, Vinyl Council Chief Executive Sophi MacMillan says: “Following its postponement in 2020, our third biennial PVC AUS conference will bring the Australasian PVC industry together for the first time in four years.

“With close to two years of disruption to supply chains, working patterns and in-person events, the PVC industry has never before had more reason to come together to build new connections and discuss the latest in technical innovations, opportunities for sustainable industry development and planning for what is on the horizon.”

Key themes include collaboration with industry, government and stakeholder groups to find solutions to PVC circularity and reinforce the material’s role in a circular economy. This includes the challenge of transitioning to lower carbon PVC products, avoiding substances of high concern and shifting local uPVC window production to the next level.

The business case for addressing sustainability will be covered by Andrew Petersen, CEO of the Business Council for Sustainable Development Australia, Jorge Chapa, Head of Market Transformation, Green Building Council of Australia, Rob Coombs, Managing Director, ANZ, Interface and Gihan Perera, a Futurist and author, sponsored by Australian Vinyls.

Delegates will be updated on policies and government initiatives for Australia’s future use of plastics as well as hear from international guest speakers Jane Gardner of the European Resilient Flooring Manufacturers’ Institute, Inna Jeschke from Inovyn and Jay Thomas, from the US Vinyl Sustainability Council on their latest initiatives driving progress towards a circular economy for vinyl.

Sophi continues: “Inspirational insights and discussion with our range of expert speakers will provide invaluable opportunities for exploring industry examples of strategic initiatives and leadership, increasing understanding of current policy settings and gaining key information on vinyl sustainability to share with customers and end markets.”

Australia’s PVC manufacturing industry consumes more than A$1 billion of raw materials annually and over A$3 billion of products containing PVC are sold in Australia.

Sophi adds: “From technical and case study presentations to informed debate, our PVC AUS 2022 event offers participants an unmatched opportunity to join in-person over 150 industry peers from across the Asia Pacific region and collaborate towards a shared horizon: a sustainable, resilient society and circular economy. We look forward to welcoming you to the first vinyl industry-wide event in four years!”

For more information and to register for the event, please visit https://vinyl.org.au/news/pvc-aus-2022