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European PVC recycling at all time high

A voluntary industry scheme to recycle more vinyl across the EU has resulted in a 15.6% increase in the amount recycled, amounting to 739,525 tonnes of PVC last year.

European industry body VinylPlus unveiled the results at its Sustainability Forum in Prague, Czech Republic, held on 9-10 May, where future plans for further progress were discussed.

The initiative has achieved 92.4% of VinylPlus’s 2020 target, with Recovinyl being the main contributor, registering 734,568 tonnes of recycled PVC. Since 2000, almost five million tonnes of PVC has been recycled.

VinylPlus general manager Brigitte Dero said: “For almost 20 years, VinylPlus has led the way towards a circular economy (CE) by improving the sustainability performance of PVC. By forging ever greater collaborations and partnerships in pursuit of our sustainability goals, we will take our industry voluntary commitment to greater heights.”

Chair Stefan Sommer welcomed delegates to the conference and said: “The reason behind VinylPlus’s success is the commitment of the entire value chain, involving the co-operation of resin manufacturers, additive producers and PVC converters.

“To achieve further success, we will need to intensify co-operation with our partners and may need to identify new ones.”

Sommer argued that a “balanced and harmonised legislative framework for the recycling of plastics is essential to secure our contribution to the circular economy and to achieve our new recycling target of at least 900,000 tonnes by 2025”.

He said this would be in line with the European Commission’s objective of 10 million tonnes for the plastics industry.

Jenny Walther-Thoss, policy officer of sustainable biomass and sustainable certification at the World Wide Fund (WWF), stressed that products need to fit a more holistic approach to the CE through more efficient production methods and a focus on the longevity of the product.

MEP Martina Dlabajová said: “It’s so timely to speak about accelerating innovation because we need to consider the challenges and opportunities of the future. Climate change, sustainability and the environment are important topics dominating the political agenda.

“Evolution towards sustainable development requires a change of mindset. I often use VinylPlus as an example of a voluntary commitment to sustainable development from industry that works. Only through co-operation with businesses and industry can politicians make informed decisions.”

Arab Hoballah, team leader at EU-SWITCH-Asia Sustainable Consumption and Production Facility (SCP) and ex-chief SCP for the United Nations Environment Programme, argued that ‘eco-innovation’ could help to address the sustainability challenges faced by the PVC industry.

He said: “This requires mainstreaming sustainability with a lifecycle approach throughout all business operations and creating novel solutions to meet market demand. We cannot live without plastic, so let us talk about the ‘good’ ones properly.”

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