The voluntary PVC Stewardship Program, one of Australia’s longest running product stewardship initiatives, achieved good results in 2019, showing continued improvement across a range of outcomes, the Vinyl Council of Australia has reported.
A new record 23 companies demonstrated full compliance with sustainability objectives applicable to their businesses under the Program, while almost 9 out of 10 reporting signatories achieved at least Silver status (>80 % compliance). This meant that, for the first time in the program’s 18-year history, it exceeded its key performance benchmark.
“The core purpose of the Vinyl Council of Australia is to enhance the industry’s opportunities for sustainable growth,” said Vinyl Council of Australia chief executive, Sophi MacMillan.
“To achieve this, the industry has adopted a strong and long-term focus on environmental sustainability which we deliver through a shared responsibility framework bringing together players across the vinyl supply chain, including importers and local manufacturers, as well as government and other key stakeholders.”
Among the issues addressed by the Program is the avoidance of the use of lead stabilisers and pigments. Phasing the use of these substances out was a key driver in establishing the PVC Stewardship Program (PSP) back in 2002. Although original signatories to the program ceased the use of lead stabilisers by the end of 2012, new companies signing up to the Program were found to be using them in specific, low volume applications where technically feasible alternatives had not yet been identified. As signatories to the Program, they have been required to report annually on the use and the progress in phasing them out. In 2019, no signatory reported any use of lead stabilisers or pigments.
Waste and resource recovery has been another focus. To help drive markets for recyclate, the Program introduced a commitment four years ago that PVC product suppliers would bring products containing recycled PVC to the market. An increasing number of Signatories are fulfilling this commitment (two-thirds of eligible signatories in 2019) with increased volumes of recovered PVC being recycled into new applications and products.
“In 2019 we saw an 8% increase in use of locally produced PVC recyclate in locally made new products of our signatory companies, which means, over the past four years, these companies have diverted almost 2,500 tonnes of PVC into new use,” said Jan van de Graaff, head of the Council’s national stewardship program.