Aarhus University: The Environmental Advantages of Agricultural Production with Recycled PVC

In an effort to achieve an academic estimation of the possibilities of cultivating crops with waste parts from discarded PVC, the project From Building Waste to Building Gardens engaged in a partnership with Prof. Marianne Thomsen from the Department of Environmental Science at Aarhus University. The goal was to examine whether the fundamental idea of urban agriculture through reused PVC waste was a sustainable solution.

Daina Romeo, a PhD student at Aarhus University, was tasked with examining whether the cultivation of crops in recycled PVC waste is sustainable from both an environmental and economic perspective. Various vegetables were cultivated in a prototype at Aarhus University over a period of 70 days, through which substantial amounts of data were collected. This resulted in a report, titled Urban Agriculture: Hard PVC waste for integrated water and bio-resources management in urban agriculture, published in 2017.

Greenhouse Emissions Reduced When the Lifespan of the Products are Prolonged

The results were very positive. By cultivating in discarded PVC products rather than newly produced PVC, the greenhouse emissions will be reduced by up to 70%, and the yield in PVC is likewise encouraging. In the report’s conclusion, Daina Romeo writes:

“Reusing PVC from the construction sector for agricultural purposes is a promising way of “slowing down the flow”, which is one of the essential steps on the path towards a circular economy. Normally, PVC is discarded before the end of its lifespan, which is around 100 years. By giving the product another life, the PVC material’s applicability is accommodated, whereby people can enjoy its additional advantages.”

Lastly, Daina Romeo points out that one of the benefits of using PVC waste for agricultural production is the system’s flexibility: “These systems represent good opportunities for people, who prefer the economically advantageous solution of cultivating vegetables without simultaneously having to own a garden.”