In 2002, the Vinyl Council of Australia launched a voluntary product stewardship initiative to recognise and address all environmental issues facing the Australian PVC industry. Signatories to the Product Stewardship Program undertake to meet binding commitments in a given time frame covering a wide range of environmental initiatives including energy efficiency and greenhouse emissions, additives and end-of-life management. Vinidex has been a signatory to the Product Stewardship Program since its foundation.
Just recently, Vinidex was awarded the PVC Stewardship Excellence Award for 2014-15. This award certifies that Vinidex met 100% of the Australian PVC industry’s Product Stewardship commitments in 2014.
Product Stewardship commitments cover environmental and health issues over the life cycle of PVC products, from the production of raw materials through manufacture of products, their use and subsequent recycling or disposal. Since PVC is used in a wide range of applications, not all commitments are relevant to all signatories. Commitments are grouped under the following key categories.
- Production and Storage
- Stabiliser and Pigment Use
- Plasticiser Use
- Waste Management
- Public Reporting
In the 10 years since the Program was launched, significant progress has been achieved. Heavy metal stabilisers and additives containing lead and cadmium have been phased out and replaced by alternatives. Strategies to advance recycling of PVC in Australia have been formulated and implemented. Environmental Management Systems have been adopted and “life cycle thinking” approaches promoted.
- PVC pipe is rigid and has no plasticisers –
- so no phthalates in PVC pipe
- Much of Australia’s PVC raw materials are already sourced from non mercury based production. The GBCA best practice guidelines will require independent certification of these sources.
- Australian PVC pipe standards are the only National Standards worldwide to exclude heavy metal stabilisers – another GBCA best practice requirement.
- No lead, cadmium or mercury based compounds are added to Australian PVC pipe.
- Australian PVC pipe standards set the lowest VCM thresholds of any National Standards worldwide at 1ppm
- The Australian Standards for PVC pipe have the Best Environmental Practice requirements developed by the GBCA embedded in them to facilitate and openly encourage responsible sourcing of raw materials, best practice manufacturing, fully independent third party certification compliance, simpler procurement and easier identification of compliant products. No other Australian or international product standards have taken this step.
- There are no dioxins in PVC pipe.
- Australia genuinely is a world leader in oriented PVC pressure pipe technology – PVCO.
- Double the strength of the old PVCU or PVCM material
- Importantly with significantly improved impact and point load resistance.
- High strength means around 50% less material is required for the same pressure class – so less demand on raw materials, lower energy required to transport and easier handling.
- Thinner wall thickness means larger internal bore and better hydraulic performance.
- PVCO has the lowest embodied energy of any of the competing reticulation pressure pipe systems – confirmed by the CSIRO.
- Structured wall and multi layer non pressure pipe for DWV, Stormwater and conduit applications
- Structured wall and foamed core technology means less material without compromising pipe performance
- Material efficiencies of around 25-30% save on raw materials.
- These material efficient non pressure options mean PVC pipe provides the lowest embodied energy pipe options for DWV and Stormwater applications.
- Durability has always been a strong point for PVC pipe – the Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA) rate PVC in their highest category with a life expectancy of in excess of 100years.
- PVC pressure pipe is the best performing infrastructure pipe system in Australia – WSAA data, CSIRO analysis.
- Long life products significantly contribute to the overall sustainability of the asset because the pipe system outlasts the building.
- PVC pipe is recyclable and is being recycled now !!
- PVC is a thermoplastic and easily recycled
- The Australian PVC pipe industry has established recycling operations in Sydney and Melbourne – mining the waste stream for PVC pipe and turning it into new PVC pipe.
- Like for like recycling is easily achieved with PVC pipe.
- Multilayer pipe technology is ideally suited to use recyclate.
- Life Cycle Analysis (LCA)
- LCA looks at the total life cycle of a product.
- PVC equals or outperforms all other commonly available pipe alternatives in both pressure reticulation and DWV applications – based on Edge Environment research.