PVC recycling 'text book example' of cutting resource use
Recycling can dramatically reduce the environmental footprint of PVC and boost material optimisation, according to a white paper released today.
The paper, published by recycling company VinyLoop, revealed that recycled PVC cuts primary energy demand by almost a half, at 46%, compared with the production of virgin PVC compounds.
Using a life cycle approach that considers the environmental impacts from all stages of a products lifetime, the research also showed that recycled PVC reduces global warming potential by 39% and water consumption by 72%.
VinyLoop marketing & development manager Christian Thamm told edie that the near-original quality of the recycled product meant that manufacturers and retailers could benefit economically as well as environmentally.
He said: "With our recycled product we have almost virgin quality which means it can replace virgin material and therefore you have the benefit of the environmental part.
"But we also believe that consumers are willing to pay a small premium in order to receive a more sustainable product so we find that the value chain participates economically."
The white paper provided the example of an eco-footprint of garden hoses, demonstrating that hoses made of at least 50% recycled PVC could save on average 20% greenhouse gas emissions, 35% water consumption and 20% energy consumption.
Ghent University chemistry professor Jo Dewulf described recycling PVC as a "textbook example" of how to cut resource use through recycling and that the research had come at an appropriate time.
"Everyone is claiming sustainability. But sooner or later you need backup information to prove it. In this context, this study makes sense," he said.
VinyLoop says its paper is part of a call to action, in the framework of the industry's VinylPlus campaign (link), to recycle 800,000 tonnes of PVC per year in 2020.
According to the company, recycling can assist EU's Growth Strategy Europe 2020, which aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions 20% and increase energy efficiency 20%.