Our progress

Reporting on 2020 Activities

The table below summarises VinylPlus’ progress and achievements in 2020 in each of the five key sustainability challenges identified for PVC on the basis of The Natural Step’s System Conditions for a Sustainable Society. Click through the table to learn about each challenge’s subsections, and the work VinylPlus has put into each and every one of them.

See also our Progress Report, the brochure VinylPlus at a Glance and our Infographic.

 

Controlled-Loop Management

Recycling

Graph illustrating PVC recycled in tonnes in 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic provoked severe market disruption during the first half of 2020: recycling operations decreased throughout Europe, as many companies were forced into lockdowns. The situation improved in the second part of the year, however, with a positive trend for PVC recycling in Europe. Several recyclers were able to continue to operate their facilities, and lockdowns only partially affected the construction sector.

Despite a generally positive market in the second half of the year, a complete recovery from the first wave of COVID-19 was not possible. In view of these circumstances, and against all odds, PVC waste recycling within the VinylPlus framework still reached an outstanding volume of 731,461 tonnes, only a 5% decrease from 2019.

 

energy demand graphic: recycling is 90% lower than virgin in energy demand

Using recycled PVC helps meet resource-efficiency targets and allows the preservation of natural resources. It has been calculated that CO2 savings of up to 92% are achieved when PVC is recycled: recycled PVC’s primary energy demand is typically between 45% to 90% lower than virgin PVC production (depending on type of PVC and the recycling process).

Furthermore, according to a conservative estimation, for each kg of PVC recycled, 2 kg of CO2 are saved.On this basis, CO2 savings from PVC recycling in Europe is now at around 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 saved per year.

 

+1.5 thousand direct jobs

According to a study by TAUW, an independent European consulting and engineering company, on average one employee is needed to recycle 500 tonnes/year of PVC. Hence the 731,461 tonnes of PVC recycled in 2020 contributed to the creation of 1,500 direct jobs in recycling plants.Since 2000, around 6.5 million tonnes of PVC waste were recycled within the VinylPlus framework, with around 13  million tonnes of CO2 saved.

 

Recovinyl

Recovinyl® mission is to facilitate PVC waste collection and recycling, and encourage the use of recycled PVC, by acting as a mediator between recyclers and converters. Recovinyl also registers and certifies volumes of PVC recycled, based on the EUCertPlast protocol.

In 2020, Recovinyl developed RecoTraceTM , a new database for recyclers and converters in line with the Circular Plastics Alliance requirements and objectives, which is now ready for use in the next VinylPlus Commitment.

A new traceability survey was carried out to verify in which applications PVC waste recycled in 2019 had been used.

Recovinyl traceability survey

Over the year, Recovinyl was also heavily involved in the EU Circular Plastics Alliance (CPA) Monitoring Working Group. Recovinyl contributed its experience to define a shared methodology of reporting and to draft the CPA audit protocol for recyclers and converters and the requirements for the data collector.

Sector Projects

EPPA pool projectWith 353,443 tonnes recycled in 2020, window profiles and related building products accounted for 48% of the total PVC recycled in the VinylPlus framework.

In 2019, EPPA started a technical project aimed at understanding the potential hazard classification under European waste legislation of rigid PVC containing legacy additives. The risk assessment study, based on the available test methodologies for HP 14 (Hazardous Properties ecotoxic) classification, was finalised in 2020. It confirmed that there is no ecotoxicity in virgin-layered recyclate profiles.

In 2020, EPPA and Recovinyl joined forces to develop a common approach to boost the recycling of window profiles to attain the VinylPlus 2025 targets. The action plan will focus on Germany, France and Poland, which have been identified as the countries with the highest potential for post-consumer window recycling.

In Germany, Rewindo estimated that two-thirds of the 300 million windows currently in use are made of PVC. As they will progressively come to the end of their useful life, there is considerable potential for further expanding the recycling of PVC windows in Germany.

EPPA project

In France, strong cooperation was established with UFME (Union des Fabricants de Menuiseries – the Association of Doors and Windows Manufacturers). It is aimed at consolidating and further developing the collection and recycling of end-of-life windows, also in view of the application of the related EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility).

 

In Poland, a coordinating body was set up to build a value chain network aimed at developing collection schemes and promoting the recycling of post-consumer PVC profiles.

In 2020, TEPPFA continued to motivate PVC pipe manufacturers to use PVC recyclates in multi-layer sewage pipes. A promotional video – PVC Pipes Recycling towards a Circular Economy – was also produced, which is being translated into French, German, Polish and Spanish. To maximise the uptake of externally recycled content, in line with its commitment in the EU Circular Plastics Alliance, TEPPFA is voluntarily opening up its product standards as part of CEN/TC 155. It is doing this without compromising on quality, hygiene, safety, longevity or fitness for intended purpose.

blue PVC pipe

A buried pipe project and pipe testing were carried out to assess pipes’ potential contribution to the release of microplastics in the use-phase. Thirty-year-old excavated plastic stormwater pipes, including PVC pipes, confirmed excellent performance in use, showing no notable internal pipe wall abrasion. Furthermore, lab testing carried out by DTI (Danish Technological Institute) on various polymers for drinking water pipes, including PVC-U, confirmed that zero microplastics were found in the test samples.

 

Co-funded by VinylPlus, Revinylfloor is the platform set up within ERFMI to promote a circular economy for the PVC flooring sector in Europe. During the year, ERFMI carried out a gap analysis on the existing recycling technologies and collection schemes for PVC flooring. Furthermore, the consultancy firm Solfirmus was selected to carry out an in-depth analysis of suitable recycling technologies and to investigate identification and sorting technologies for PVC flooring containing legacy additives.

In 2020, around 14,115 tonnes of roofing and waterproofing membranes were recycled through ESWA’s project Roofcollect® or reported through the Recovinyl scheme. ESWA performed collection trials in the Netherlands and initiated a pan-European project to characterise the recyclability of end-of-life roofs in an effort to further expand outlets for recyclate.

Other Recycling Projects

The Oreade chemical recycling process, which has been studied at the Oreade-Suez plant in France, combines energy and material recovery. Following the promising results of the 2017-2018 small-scale test trials, larger-scale trials were run in 2019 to test waste streams with different chlorine concentrations. In total, more than 300 tonnes of end-of-life PVC tarpaulins and flooring were treated. The trials confirmed the overall feasibility of the approach, which allows the recycling of the chlorine part of the PVC molecule. In the next step, selected waste-to-energy plants across Europe that use the same chlorine neutralisation technology (dry scrubber with sodium bicarbonate) will be involved in further trials to test the influence of different plant configurations on the efficiency of chlorine recovery.

The primary objective of the ThermoVinyl project, which started in 2019 in Switzerland, is to assess the possible environmental benefits of using recovered hydrochloric acid produced by the incineration of chlorine-containing wastes in Swiss municipal waste-to-energy plants. The acid obtained from flue gas washing via a wet-scrubbing process is used to treat filter ashes to recover salts of heavy metals such as zinc, lead, cadmium and copper. The recovered metals are then recycled. Most incineration plants in Switzerland use the acids produced in their own flue gas washing facilities to extract heavy metals from the filter ashes, but the available quantities of acid are insufficient. The use of selected PVC waste streams to generate hydrochloric acid avoids buying additional acid on the market and presents an interesting alternative from both the environmental and economic points of view. The project will continue in 2021 by focusing on the potential enhancement of the generation of hydrochloric acid via increased treatment of suitable PVC waste streams that are difficult to recycle mechanically.

Both the Oreade and ThermoVinyl processes offer technically feasible solutions for the treatment of selected PVC waste streams that cannot be eco-efficiently recycled mechanically. As a result, the amount of waste sent to landfill is reduced, leading to less pollution, and preserving natural resources by reducing the need to produce new materials. The processes take advantage of existing European infrastructure, such as municipal waste-to-energy plants, which means that additional investment to build new plants is not necessary.

The REMADYL project was launched in June 2019, funded by the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.Remadyl logoIt is aimed at removing hazardous legacy phthalates and lead from PVC and at recycling ‘old PVC’ into high-purity PVC. The REMADYL project involves a consortium of 15 multidisciplinary European partners, including VinylPlus. Researchers from the University of Valencia (UVEG) joined the project in 2020 to develop scavenger materials for the removal of lead stabilisers from end-of-life PVC. Using the scavenger complexes synthesised by UVEG, the technology centre AIMPLAS is currently testing the removal of lead stabilisers via a continuous melt filtration process in an extruder. As part of the REMADYL project, the first promising plasticiser batch-extraction tests were performed at the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology on PVC dry blends and PVC sheets (mostly containing mainly DEHP). The extraction achieved good yields of over 70%.

The EuPolySep project is aimed at setting up a small pilot plant in Belgium to separate PVC from complex laminated products. Polymer-laminated materials and polymeric materials with composite structures are commonly used to combine the particular performances of different polymers. The Australian PVC Separation (PVCS) technology has been identified as the most promising to be tested at a pilot scale. This innovative process allows polymers to be delaminated and separated from polymer-composite structures for subsequent recycling.

The Resysta® recycling consortium produces a recyclable wood-like material based on rice husks and PVC. In 2020, the Resysta network continued to work on the development of a European collection infrastructure for waste Resysta material along the whole value chain (sanding, offcut, installation and end use), in order to be able to return clean material into the production process. LCAs and EPDs for Resysta material and end products are currently being developed with the Institut für Fenstertechnik of Rosenheim, in Germany.

PVC medical application

RecoMed is a partnership project between the British Plastics Federation (BPF) and Axion, co-funded by VinylPlus.It is aimed at collecting and recycling non-contaminated used PVC medical devices from UK hospitals, including face masks and tubing. The project currently involves 43 hospitals from 15 hospital trusts. Another 98 hospitals from 83 trusts and private healthcare providers are ready to enrol in the scheme. COVID-19 has adversely affected the project outcomes for 2020, causing an 81% drop in recycling quantities. To date, 24,211 kg of medical devices have been collected and recycled. RecoMed is currently developing a new business model to improve financial sustainability.

Building on the successful experience of RecoMed, in 2020 VinylPlus started a new collaborative project called VinylPlus® MedVinylPlusMed logoThe project, which was officially unveiled in February 2021, is aimed at developing a recycling scheme for single-use PVC medical devices in Europe, to help hospitals sort their PVC medical waste stream. Starting with a pilot project in Belgium, the scheme will focus on clean and REACH-compliant PVC waste that can be recycled into a wide range of value products marketed across Europe. In partnership with Europe Hospitals, high-quality and non-infectious PVC waste of various departments facilities will be collected and recycled. VinylPlus® Med also involves Raff Plastics, as the recycler, and Renewi as the waste management company. All Belgian VinylPlus® Med partners are located within a radius of 120 km, to limit transport distances and thus minimise the carbon footprint.

In 2020, IVK Europe started a technical project aimed at exploring the mechanical separation of soft PVC material lined with woven fabric or polyester. The objective was to develop a technique for separating fabric, tissue and composites fibre from soft PVC foils or membranes such as synthetic leather, truck tarpaulins, banners, conveyor belts and swimming pool foils. Trials were carried out by the recycling company KKF reVinyl GmbH, with promising results. Further tests are foreseen in 2021, using the recycled material produced so far and exploring sieving techniques, alternative separation proceedings and laboratory tests. The main objective is to improve the quality of the gained recyclate.Launched in 2019, the EATS Recycling Project is a joint technical project between VinylPlus and VFSE Automotive Working Group (EATS – European Automotive Trim Suppliers) aimed at developing a product for the automotive industry, made of recycled polymers from the automotive industry, thereby creating a closed loop. In 2020, the project was successfully completed with the production of a heel mat containing recycled PVC.

As the reintroduction of a tax on soft PVC was under discussion in Denmark, Danish manufacturers decided to investigate whether a recycling scheme for soft PVC could be established there.The consultancy Ramboll was commissioned to conduct a best-available-technique (BAT) analysis of existing collection and recycling schemes and assess the potential environmental benefits of Denmark joining the European recycling system. Preliminary conclusions show that the analysed soft PVC products (flooring, roof membranes, medical devices, tarpaulins, climate protection equipment, sport applications and tents) are very difficult to substitute: substitution would result in more-expensive products with reduced technical performance. The study also concludes that recycling technologies exist for soft PVC waste and that there are circular potentials for soft PVC products in Denmark.

WREP (Waste Recycling Project) was launched in 2016 by PVC Forum Italia to assess the improvement potential for PVC recycling in Italy and to promote the development of pilot PVC waste collection and recycling schemes. Despite the difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic, cooperation with ETRA SpA continued in 2020 and demonstrated that intercepting and recycling PVC waste is economically as well as environmentally worthwhile. One essential element for the success of the pilot project was training the operators of the plants involved in the experimentation, which equipped them to recognize, separate and select the PVC elements. The project also confirmed the importance of an appropriate selection and separation of high-quality PVC waste: the more it is free from contamination, the easier it is to use the recycled material in the same application (closed loop) or in other high-performance applications (upgrading), increasing the R-PVC value on the market. Thanks to the cooperation with ETRA, WREP is part of CIRCE2020’s initiatives in Italy.

Legacy Additives

Over the years, VinylPlus has contributed to discussions on legacy additives by supporting research and a considerable number of studies. Several substances (such as cadmium compounds, lead-based stabilisers and low molecular weight phthalates) have been investigated from several angles with a major transition over the last 25 years from these additives to innovative, safe and sustainable alternatives (such as calcium-zinc stabilisers, high molecular weight phthalates and other plasticisers). In December 2020, the Fraunhofer IVV produced the final report on Screening Analyses of Legacy Additives in PVC Recyclates and Recycled Articles. A study of BPA (bisphenol A) and ATO (antimony trioxide) migration and environmental modelling was also completed by FABES in October 2020.

Lead and Cadmium Restriction

In November 2019, the REACH Committee accepted the European Chemical Agency’s (ECHA) proposal for the revision of lead-content limits in articles containing recycled PVC. The proposal contained a derogation period of 15 years, to be reviewed after 7.5 years. The draft regulation was sent for scrutiny to the European Parliament and Council. On 21 January 2020, the European Parliament ENVI Committee adopted a motion for resolution objecting to the draft EU Commission regulation, considering it incompatible with the aim and content of the REACH Regulation. On 12 February 2020, a plenary session of the European Parliament voted in favour of this resolution objecting to the draft Commission regulation. The draft proposal was then returned to the Commission for review. VinylPlus is helping the European Commission to address the concerns raised by the European Parliament and is updating its wealth of relevant information for that purpose.

Want to know more on PVC Recycling and legacy additivesA LEAD ON RECYCLING PVC, by Dr. Mark Everard, Associate Professor of Ecosystem Services, University of the West of England (UWE Bristol).

Controlled Loop Committee

The Coronavirus emergency has strongly impacted all human activities, including those in the PVC industry, from the production stage to recycling. Already in spring 2020 it was clear that COVID-19 would have a significant impact on 2020 recycling volumes.

Despite the difficult situation, Controlled-Loop Committee (CLC) activities remained focused throughout the year on ensuring progress on VinylPlus recycling targets for 2020 and beyond.

The new dynamic model developed by the consultancy Conversio, which estimates the amounts of post-consumer PVC waste arising, available and collectable each year from 2020 to 2040, underwent further refinements during the year.

With a view to the new VinylPlus Commitment towards 2030, a study was also carried out in cooperation with the University of Ghent in Belgium to evaluate material flows in the PVC industry over a 10-year period. The different scenarios estimated how material resources can evolve. Examples included more PVC recyclates replacing virgin PVC, chlorine produced from sodium chlorine mined in salt mines and from recycling, the hydrocarbon part of PVC from fossil feedstock, bio-sourcing and chemical recycling. The study also discussed the possible impact of such evolution on pre-defined key sustainability indicators.

In April 2020, the consultant TNO finalised its critical investigation of PVC chemical recycling technologies available on the market. The study assessed three technologies: Ebara-Ube (gasification); Agylix (pyrolysis); and Oreade. Municipal solid waste (MSW) incineration was used as a reference. The final report showed that gasification is potentially the best option for waste with a 10% PVC content, but also, that “… chemical recycling technologies are not yet available at commercial scale for municipal solid waste. And these technologies work currently with well-defined input streams and further research is needed regarding operation with mixed input streams.”

The CLC plays a key role in monitoring and screening potential innovative recycling technologies. It will continue to do so in the future – not only to find solutions for the more difficult-to-recycle PVC waste streams, but also for the legacy additives that remain the main challenge for future recycling commitments.

Organochlorine Emissions

 

Safe Transport
There were no transport accidents in Europe with VCM release in 2020, thus achieving the target of zero accidents over the 2011-2020 decade.

PVC Resin Industry Production Charters

In 2020, ECVM members achieved full compliance with the industry charters for suspension (VCM and S-PVC Charter) and emulsion (E-PVC Charter) PVC, aimed at reducing environmental impact in the production phase.

In 2019, the two charters were updated, taking into account the current best available techniques, and unified into a single document: ECVM Industry Charter for the Production of Vinyl Chloride Monomer and PVC.

The updated Charter includes two new commitments: to limit workers’ exposure to VCM as much as technically feasible and to participate in the Operation Clean Sweep® programme by applying the auditing method adapted to PVC plants.

The PVC resin industry is committed to achieving 100% compliance with the updated Charter by the end of 2021.

Sustainable Use Of Additives

Stabilisers

In October 2018, ESPA appointed VITO to conduct a life-cycle assessment for Ba-Zn and Ca-Zn liquid mixed-metal (LMM) stabilisers, mainly used in flexible PVC applications. The final report was issued in November 2019 and concluded that LMM stabilisers have a low impact, given their very low content into the final PVC articles, and the fact that their current components have been designed to fulfil with the REACH requirements. Overall, LMM stabilisers contribute between 0.1% and 3% in all impact categories for a PVC product. On this basis, and taking into account the beneficial properties they provide to the final articles in terms of aesthetic appearance, durability and recyclability, LMM stabilisers can be considered an appropriate family of additives for sustainable use.

Pb (Lead) Replacement

Sales by ESPA members of lead-based stabilisers in the EU-28 market ceased in December 2015. The recycling of rigid PVC articles produced after this date is thus no longer affected by lead legacy issues, and the average lead concentration in mixed streams of pre- and post-2015 recyclates is constantly decreasing.

Lead replacement

Plasticisers

Estimates by European Plasticisers confirm a constant growth (a 33% increase compared to 2005) in the use of high molecular weight (HMW) orthophthalates, cyclohexanoates, terephthalates and other

plasticisers in Europe, together with a progressive decline in the use of low molecular weight (LMW) orthophthalates. Given the large tonnages involved, the transition from SVHC (Substances of Very High Concern) LMW phthalates to more innovative, safe and sustainable non-SVHC HMW phthalates and other plasticisers has involved major investment (over €6 billion) by the European plasticiser industry over the last 25 years. Hazard and risk assessments were conducted on the alternative plasticisers during this period by regulators with the involvement of all stakeholders via public consultations and meetings. This is a remarkable example of how an innovative, safe and sustainable transition can be achieved with the involvement of regulators, industry and all stakeholders, and in compliance with EU competition law.

Studies and Research

European Plasticisers is committed to robust weight-of-evidence science and is constantly engaged in fostering a sound scientific debate around plasticisers. To encourage research activities and raise awareness of the safe and sustainable use of plasticisers in the younger generation, in January 2020 European Plasticisers, with the support of VinylPlus, launched a call for the best essays on plasticisers and flexible PVC. The project – called Hands on Vinyl: Students of Today, Experts of Tomorrow – attracted several interesting works from Bachelor, Master and PhD students at Belgian, German and Italian universities. A selection panel composed of industry experts reviewed all the papers and appreciated the high quality of the essays submitted, as well as the dedication and commitment of all the authors. The winners were Federico Acciaretti and Andrea Pasquale of the University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy, with a work on bio-based processes to synthesise di(2-ethylhexyl) adipate (DEHA).

A scientific project aimed at developing PBPK (physiologically-based pharmacokinetic) models for several plasticisers was started in 2017 by European Plasticisers and co-funded by VinylPlus. The objective was to demonstrate the safe use of plasticised PVC and support scientifically solid risk assessments. The PBPK model for DINCH (Di-isononyl cyclohexanoate) was published in November 2019, and the model for DINP (Di-isononyl phthalate) was published in August 2020. PBPK models for DEHT (Di-octyl terephthalate) and DPHP (Di(2-propyl heptyl) phthalate)/DIDP (Di‐isodecyl phthalate) are being validated. PBPK models for DEHA, DINA (Di-isononyl adipate) and DBA (Di-n-butyl adipate) will follow, taking into account their differences compared to the phthalates identified in recently published studies.

A Systematic Comparison of the Male Reproductive Tract in Foetal and Adult Wistar Rats exposed to DBP and DINP in Utero during the Masculinisation Programming Window was undertaken at the University of Edinburgh and published in the peer-reviewed journal Toxicology Letters in December 2020. It concludes that DINP does not cause the adverse reproductive effects known to occur with DBP (Di-n-butyl phthalate), a Category 1B Reproductive Agent, which is an SVHC and an endocrine disruptor under REACH.

Regulatory Updates

As reported in last year’s Progress Report, the updated EFSA risk assessment of the phthalates DBP, BBP (Butyl benzyl phthalate), DEHP (Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate), DINP and DIDP for use in food-contact materials (December 2019), concluded that current exposure to these five phthalates from food is not a concern for public health”. Nevertheless, based on the limited scope of the mandate and the uncertainties identified, the EFSA’s CEP Panel considered that the current assessment of the five phthalates, individually and collectively, should be on a temporary basis. Further evaluations of a broad range of plasticisers (39 in total) are now in progress.

In November 2020, EFSA received a new mandate from the EU Commission and will now address the limitations of the work carried out in the previous mandate: prioritise and identify phthalates, structurally similar substances and replacement substances; and establish a protocol for dietary exposure assessment to and hazard assessment of the prioritised substances. European Plasticisers will keep providing data and other relevant information as appropriate.

In 2020, European Plasticisers contributed to the European Commission public consultation on amending the Authorisation List (Annex XIV of REACH) entries by adding the four phthalates DEHP, BBP, DBP and DIBP for their endocrine disrupting properties. Since these four phthalates were already on Annex XIV for the same adverse effects (reproductive effects), European Plasticisers expressed concern for the over-regulation of these substances. Once the European Commission decides on the amendment, some previously REACH-exempted uses will require authorisation. For example, if DEHP is listed as an endocrine disruptor for the environment, authorisation applications will have to be submitted for it to be used in food-contact materials and medical devices.

As of 7 July 2020, the use of the low molecular weight orthophthalates DEHP, DBP, DIBP and BBP has been restricted in articles produced in or imported to Europe. They cannot be used in a concentration greater than or equal to 0.1% by weight of the plasticised material.

Sustainable use of additives

The ASF (Additive Sustainability Footprint) is the methodology developed by VinylPlus and The Natural Step to proactively evaluate the sustainability positives and negatives of the additives used in PVC products across their whole lifecycles and to prioritise actions for further improvements in the additives’ sustainability profiles.

The ASF methodology and criteria were peer reviewed by LCA experts and validated for the key additives used in a generic window profile formulation. In 2020, a specific Homogeneous Flooring Task Force was set up by VinylPlus and TNS, in collaboration with ERFMI, ESPA and European Plasticisers, to validate the ASF criteria for the key additives – stabilisers and plasticisers – used in a generic homogeneous PVC floor covering.

Now that the ASF criteria have been validated for the key additives used in generic rigid (window profile) and flexible (floor covering) PVC formulations, additives manufacturers will be able to use the ASF for their own products. One major strength of the ASF approach is that it can be used by any additive manufacturer willing to self-assess the lifecycle sustainability of their additives used in PVC products. A dedicated ASF team was set up to help the additive manufacturers use the ASF for their products, supporting the creation of internal teams and structures within the companies where needed.

Sustainable Use Of Energy And Raw Materials

Energy Efficiency

PVC resin production scheme

PVC resin producers committed to reducing their energy consumption for the production of EDC (Ethylene dichloride), VCM and PVC, targeting a 20% reduction by 2020.

As previously reported, in 2018 IFEU completed the second verification of ECVM members’ energy consumption data, for the 2015-2016 period. The energy needed to produce one tonne of PVC decreased by an average of 9.5% compared to the baseline period 2007-2008. There was no progress since the previous verification of consumption data, which was for 2012-2013, and progress appeared to be levelling off. An investigation of the reasons showed that the energy use was nearing the thermodynamic limits of the monomer and polymer production processes.

 

As verified by IFEU, a 14.4% reduction in CO2 emissions for average PVC production was achieved between the baseline period and 2015-2016.

For converters, differences among products and production processes make it difficult to report on an average reduction in energy consumption across applications. Reporting is therefore related to internal surveys and revision of Environmental Product Declarations. However, across main applications such as window profiles, pipes, flooring, films and sheets energy consumption decreased between 16% and 26.5% compared to 2010.Main PVC applications

Energy savings were achieved through, among others:

  • Change of converting equipment motors from DC drive to AC
  • More efficient cooling systems using ‘free cooling’ in cold periods and countries
  • Intelligent control of pumps and ventilators
  • Reduction of rework and scrap
  • New LED lightning in factories and site area.

Moreover, several companies are also shifting towards renewable energy, investing in wind parks or solar panel farms.

Sustainable footprint

In 2012, VinylPlus established an ad hoc Task Force to assess the available methods to measure environmental and sustainability footprints and to recommend suitable footprint measurements. As reported in previous years, Task Force identified the EU Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) approach as a suitable method to measure environmental and sustainability footprints.

Renewable Raw Materials

Since the publication of its first Status Report on renewable raw materials in 2015, VinylPlus has continued to monitor developments. Thanks to technical and scientific improvements, industry innovation, as well as changes in market conditions over the past few years, non-fossil-based PVC additives, compounds and applications are starting to become available.

VinylPlus committed to produce an update of the 2015 report on renewable raw materials by the end of 2020. In October, VinylPlus published its updated VinylPlus Status Report on Renewable Raw Materials 2020, which presents relevant information as available in mid-2020 and constitutes an input to the 2021 review of all VinylPlus voluntary commitment targets.

 

In October 2019 and February 2020, commercially viable bio-attributed certified PVC resins were launched on the market by two ECVM member companies.

Sustainability Awareness

Annual Reporting

As part of the Voluntary Commitment, progress, developments and achievements are published annually in a Progress Report. The Progress Report 2021 has been independently verified by SGS, while tonnages of PVC waste recycled and expenditure have been audited and certified by KPMG. The Natural Step made a commentary on the overall work and progress of VinylPlus.

The Progress Report is directly distributed to national and European institutions, including the European Commission and to interested parties. It is used in conferences and events and is available for download on this website.

Stakeholder Dialogue and Communications

VinylPlus is committed to raising awareness of sustainability at all points along the value chain and to a frank and open dialogue with all its stakeholders – whether they be inside or outside the PVC industry. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, several conferences and events VinylPlus had planned to take part in over the course of 2020 were cancelled or postponed to 2021. Others were held in virtual form, so VinylPlus could take part in a series of virtual major national and international conferences and scientific events, where it continued to present its approach and achievements and to exchange experiences and best practices.

In June 2020, VinylPlus gave a speech on Sustainability Certifications for the European PVC Supply Chain at the PVC Compounding and Product Cycle Forum online conference.

In July 2020, VinylPlus made a presentation at the AGPU – now VinylPlus Deutschland – General Assembly, entitled A Circular Future with Vinyl.

In September 2020, VinylPlus contributed a presentation on its 2019 Achievements in the webinar on Post-Consumer PVC Recycling and Circular Economy organised by PVC Forum Italia. The webinar was held as part of the first digital edition of the RemTech Expo, an Italian international event dedicated to sustainable development, the circular economy and sustainable chemical industry. VinylPlus also hosted a virtual stand in the RemTech digital exhibition room.

Still in September 2020, VinylPlus presented its approach and achievements at ISOPA, the European Diisocyanates and Polyols Producers Association.

Under the theme #CIRCULARVINYL, the 8th VinylPlus Sustainability Forum (VSF2020) took place in Brussels, Belgium, in October 2020, in a new format, with few speakers and panellists in a TV studio and the others attending via livestreaming video conference. The Forum brought together around 180 stakeholders from 24 countries, including representatives from the European Commission, European Parliament, consumer organisations, academia, specifiers, recyclers and the PVC value chain. The mix of presentations and speeches, panel discussions and videos, allowed participants to debate the new challenges and opportunities for the PVC industry, take part interactively in live polling sessions and contribute to the architecture of the new Commitment to 2030. The event concluded with the VinylPlus® Product Label Awards Ceremony, celebrating the five companies that were certified in 2020.

In November 2020, VinylPlus contributed the speech VinylPlus: 2019 Achievements and Looking Forward to 2030 at the PVCH General Assembly.

At the online seminar PVC – Innovation and the Drive for Circularity, organised by VinylPlus UK in November 2020, VinylPlus presented A Decade of Leadership: How VinylPlus has moved PVC Towards Sustainability.

In December 2020, VinylPlus took part in the Plastics Recycling Show Europe virtual event organised by PRE to debate VinylPlus: 2019 Achievements and Looking Forward to 2030.

Engaging Globally

As part of the commitment to promote its approach to the worldwide PVC industry, VinylPlus participated virtually in the 25th Asia Pacific Vinyl Network (APVN) General Assembly and in the Global Vinyl Council (GVC) in November 2020.

United Nations

In 2020, VinylPlus continued to share its progress and contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through annual reporting on the UN Partnerships for the SDGs Platform.

VinylPlus had also planned to participate with an SDG booth at the Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (RFSD) for the UNECE Region, which was scheduled to take place in Geneva on 19-20 March 2020. The aim was to share VinylPlus’ progress and achievements towards its 2020 targets, and its contribution to the SDGs; to get RFSD participants’ comments and feedback; and to gather their input for the new VinylPlus Commitment for 2030. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, however, the Forum was held as a half-day virtual meeting on 19 March 2020.

 

 

Cooperation Agreement

Cooperation Agreement of the Social Partners of the European Chemical Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee  and VinylPlus on the European PVC Industry

The Cooperation Agreement signed with the European Chemical Sectoral Social Partners (made up of ECEG and industriAll Europe), includes concrete initiatives and action plans for workers’ safety and education and for the digitalisation of SMEs.

As a follow-up to the outcome of the 2018 workshop Health and Safety at PVC Converters and Recyclers: Status Quo and Launch of Cooperation, a plant visit to the Belgian company Deceuninck was organised in December 2019 by the European Chemical Sectoral Social Partners, VinylPlus and its partners.

The visit focused on the preparation and use of recycled material, and participants were able to deepen their knowledge of good practices within the PVC industry. This was achieved by learning in greater detail about the VinylPlus Voluntary Commitment and the VinylPlus® Product Label, as well as observing the sustainability and worker-safety best practices applied in the plant. Participants were also able to know and discuss available HSE (Health, Safety and Environment)tools and documents. These practices can now be shared with smaller companies, to raise awareness of how to further improve the HSE of converters and recyclers. Regular PVC plant visits will be organised involving IndustriAll, ECEG, and MEPs.

VinylPlus® Product Label

The VinylPlus® Product Label is a sustainability certification scheme for PVC products used in the building and construction sector. Developed by VinylPlus in cooperation with BRE and The Natural Step, it combines elements of BRE’s Framework Standard for the Responsible Sourcing of Construction Products (BES 6001) and VinylPlus’ five sustainability challenges.

By the end of 2020, 128 products and product systems manufactured by 11 companies in 19 European sites had been certified. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, all label holders have been recertified or applied for recertification. In addition, a PVC producer from eastern Europe was recognized as a legitimate PVC supplier for certified products, having been verified as compliant with the standards of the ECVM Charters.

In 2020 the Product Label scheme was recognized as a Responsible Sourcing Certification Scheme within BREEAM, the world’s most used green building standard. The Product Label has also been recognized in the new voluntary Sustainable Carpentry Label launched by the Belgian Construction Certification Association for Belgian manufacturers of exterior carpentry.

The Product Label received a positive evaluation from the designated governmental body in Belgium for its compliance with the five criteria of article 43(1) of the EU Directive 2014/24/EU, which is a legal prerequisite for inclusion in public procurement specifications. The Label is now recommended to Belgian public purchasers in the Guide for Sustainable Purchases. Finally, the Label has been directly specified by architects for building projects in Germany.

Early in 2020, VinylPlus officially launched the VinylPlus® Supplier Certificate (VSC) for raw material suppliers that are partners of VinylPlus. The VSC is intended to give these suppliers the chance to demonstrate their sustainability performance and to help their converter customers shorten audit times and gain quicker access to the VinylPlus® Product Label.

 

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