From Building Waste to Building Gardens is sponsored by VinylPlus®. VinylPlus is the sustainable development programme of the European PVC industry value chain, which among other things supports a number of vinyl-related sustainability projects.
20 years of sustainable development
As PVC is the most used plastic material in building and construction, the PVC industry has naturally focused on sustainable development for many years. The first step was to establish Vinyl 2010, a programme that united the entire value chain of the European PVC industry, from producers of raw materials and additives to PVC converting companies and recyclers. Vinyl 2010 set a number of ambitious sustainability targets. After ten years, the partners of Vinyl 2010 announced that all targets had been met. However, Vinyl 2010 was just the beginning of the sustainability master plan of the PVC industry.
VinylPlus and the circular economy
The PVC industry’s concrete sustainability goals are manifested through VinylPlus – a voluntary sustainability programme that entails a paradigm shift to a holistic, circular way of thinking. VinylPlus has developed initiatives for how PVC can contribute to a sustainable society, where economic growth and human welfare go hand-in-hand with reduced consumption of natural resources.
Five challenges on the journey towards a more sustainable PVC industry
VinylPlus was developed in collaboration with the environmental organisation The Natural Step, which specialises in advising businesses in sustainability. The Natural Step functions as a ‘critical friend,’ helping, challenging, and making sure that the PVC industry moves in the right direction.
Based on The Natural Step’s proven approach to sustainable development, five challenges have been identified for PVC:
- controlled-loop management
- organochlorine emissions
- sustainable use of additives
- sustainable use of energy and raw materials
- sustainability awareness
The success of VinylPlus is based on measurable targets and deadlines
One of the reasons for the success of VinylPlus is measurable targets and deadlines, to which the involved parties are committed to pursue and observe. One of its most important targets is to annually recycle 800,000 tons of PVC waste by 2020. This number should be considered in the context of the 740,000 tonnes of PVC that were recycled in 2018. Another VinylPlus goal is to reduce energy consumption during the production of PVC by 20%. Progress for the individual goals is published in an annual progress report, which is independently audited and verified by third parties.
Since 2013, VinylPlus is a member of the UN Green Industry Platform. VinylPlus is now registered as a SMART partnership on the UN Partnerships for Sustainable Development Goals Platform and as Good Practice on the EU stakeholder platform for circular economy.
VinylPlus has been recognised by the UN, the European Commission and a range of other stakeholders for the achieved results. According to Gwenole Cozigou, director, Circular Economy, DG Grow at the European Commission, “VinylPlus can be considered as a frontrunner for the circular economy”. And Christophe Yvetot of the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) has stated that “the vinyl industry can actively contribute to the global sustainability agenda through its continuous efforts to reduce its environmental and climate footprint and to develop new green products, services and jobs that will support a more sustainable world.”
VinylPlus has an independent Monitoring Committee composed of representatives of the European Commission, European Parliament, consumer organisations, trade unions, academia and industry. The Monitoring Committee plays an active role in evaluating VinylPlus’ actions and initiatives, provides advice and stimulates the industry to rise to new challenges in sustainable development.