News Article

The Vinyl Council’s PVC Stewardship Program (PSP) represents an ongoing, voluntary undertaking by the Australian PVC industry to recognise and address relevant environmental, health and safety aspects within the lifecycle of PVC products. PSP Signatories from across the PVC value chain strive to meet a range of stringent commitments in the consumption and manufacturing of raw materials, safe and sustainable use of additives, energy efficiency & greenhouse gas management and resource efficiency.

The PSP was originally developed following a VCA-commissioned CSIRO review into the life cycle of PVC products and potential concerns during 2001, with the review’s initial findings along with extensive stakeholder consultation forming the basis for the program which was launched in 2002. In essence, the program aims to enable all parties involved in the life cycle of PVC, including raw material suppliers, product manufacturers and distributors, to play a role as joint stewards of the safe and beneficial production, use, re-use, and disposal of PVC products.

Now 20 years on, the PSP continues to be a key vehicle to help drive the circular economy for PVC in Australia, with over 50 Signatory companies signed up from across the PVC value chain including market-leaders in the industry. Over the years the program has had a direct impact in helping to inform industry members and stakeholders of best-practice methods and support continued innovation. Achievements include reduced Vinyl Chloride Monomer (VCM) emissions from manufacturing, phasing out lead and cadmium-based additives, improvements in recycling and waste management and avoidance of mercury in upstream processes.

With PSP Signatories required to report annually on their progress in reaching all relevant commitments in the program, results over recent years have continued to drive manufacturing standards to new heights as the PVC industry endeavours to meet increased societal expectations surrounding the environmental and social impacts of products and materials.  

Over 50% of Signatories achieved Excellence (full compliance) with PSP commitments in the latest reporting period, while eighty percent achieved at least 80% compliance with program commitments relevant to their business, marking the fourth year in a row that this key program milestone has been reached. Reflecting the industry’s ongoing focus on delivering a circular economy for PVC and avoidance of loss of valuable resources to landfill, one of the key achievements over recent years has been increasing PVC recyclate use, with over 1.6 million kilograms of recycled PVC used by Signatories in the local manufacture of new products in 2021, while a further 1.1 million kilograms of externally sourced recyclate was used in products imported by Signatories.

Over 5 million kilograms of recycled PVC has now been used by PSP Signatories in products since 2016, with recyclate use by Signatories tripling in the last five years alone as more companies look to source and use recyclate, improve circularity and reduce the carbon footprint of their products as part of the program’s resource efficiency commitments.

With leaders from all sectors of the PVC industry included in the list of current PSP Signatories, the program provides businesses from across the value chain with an opportunity to showcase their ongoing commitment to sustainability and implement the necessary frameworks to manufacture and supply PVC as safely as possible. Leading PVC compounder and extruder RBM Plastic Extrusions, a high-performing PSP Signatory since 2016, pinpoint their involvement in the program to the realisation that the market had moved towards a greener approach “with the only real way to move with that being to be part of the program”.

While the broader PVC industry is familiar with the continuous spotlight on meeting relevant sustainability benchmarks, as pressure from environmental and government organisations continues to intensify it has never been more important to demonstrate to customers and external stakeholders that your company is serious about its commitment to sustainable and safe manufacturing. If your business is interested in securing the future viability of your products, become a Signatory of the PVC Stewardship Program and take the next step. Get in touch with the VCA Office today or find out more by clicking here.

The Vinyl Council of Australia (VCA) welcomes the Federal Labor Government’s addition of plastics in healthcare products to the Minister’s product stewardship priority list for 2022-23, which was announced this week by Minister for the Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek as part of National Recycling Week.

Along with other additions to the priority list of tyres and mattresses, the addition of plastics in healthcare products to the Minister’s stewardship priority list ensures that the makers and importers of these items must take responsibility for the impacts of the products on the environment across their entire life cycle. Going above and beyond simply recycling them, producers and importers of plastic products for healthcare will now have to consider how the development, design, manufacture, import, sale, use and recovery of these materials and products can be adjusted to improve environmental outcomes.

With PVC being the most commonly used plastic polymer across a wide range of applications in the healthcare industry the importance of implementing sound recycling and stewardship initiatives for medical PVC products has been recognised by the VCA for many years, and the addition of plastic healthcare products to the Minister’s priority list builds on the VCA’s existing PVC Recycling in Hospitals (PRIH) scheme which has been successfully running since 2009.

Collaboratively managed alongside program partners Baxter Healthcare and Welvic Australia, the PRIH program helps participating hospitals, medical centres and veterinary practices across Australia to recycle their used PVC medical products including IV fluid bags, tubing and masks, which are collected for re-use in a range of second-life, high-quality PVC products including hosing, mats and gumboots. Despite some logistical interruptions over the course of the pandemic the scheme has continued to expand over recent years to now include over 300 participating hospitals, with an amount of recycled PVC equivalent to over 10 million IV fluid bags collected nation-wide across 2020-21 as part of the program.

With participation numbers constantly growing and recent expansion into more rural areas, recovery rates of PVC in the program are expected to trend upwards as the scheme continues to act as a flagship program with the VCA sharing learnings to assist the adoption of similar PVC medical recycling schemes in Europe, the UK, South Africa, Canada and Thailand.

The VCA has also long-recognised the importance of a collaborative, whole-of-lifecycle approach to product stewardship, and the VCA’s voluntary PVC Stewardship Program (PSP) continues to drive industry standards with over 50 Program Signatories reporting annually on their progress in the safe and beneficial production, use and re-use of PVC products.

The VCA looks forward to supporting the Government’s focus on driving stewardship initiatives and solutions for all PVC items on the Minister’s priority list, to continue to help drive the transition towards national solutions and further innovation in the stewardship of PVC products.