From the Circular Economy Action Plan to the Sustainable Products Initiative, the current European Commission has been proactive in implementing the blueprint provided by the EU Green Deal to ensure that sustainability and circular economy objectives are guiding every area of our economy.
But even before the introduction of these policy initiatives, the united PVC value chain has been working hard to make progress in these areas. In fact, VinylPlus, the voluntary commitment of the European PVC industry toward sustainable development, is a frontrunner that has focused on sustainability and the circular economy for over 20 years.
In fact, VinylPlus, the voluntary commitment of the European PVC industry toward sustainable development, is a frontrunner that has focused on sustainability and the circular economy for over 20 years.
At yesterday’s VinylPlus Sustainability Forum 2021, the entire PVC value chain reaffirmed again its dedication to creating a sustainable and circular future with the official launch of VinylPlus 2030 — the next 10-year commitment of the European PVC industry to sustainable development.
Using two decades of experience in sustainable development to build an even more ambitious program
By adopting an evidence-based approach with measurable targets, VinylPlus not only made steady progress in sustainability objectives (as seen in the recently-published Progress Report 2021), but is committed to supporting EU policies in sustainability and the circular economy.
The Sustainable Products Initiative is particularly relevant to VinylPlus’s commitments and a prime example of where it can support the European Commission to attain its goals. As a long-standing partner of the European Commission, VinylPlus is ready to help provide solutions that strike the right balance between transparency and workability. The VinylPlus® Product Label for instance, actively contributes to improving the sustainability and sustainable use of products by ensuring product traceability, and by requiring producers to meet a number of strict sustainability requirements, all verified by a third party. Product Label is the first scheme dedicated to plastic building and construction products to be recognized as a Responsible Sourcing Certification Scheme within BREEAM®, the world’s most-used green building standard.
As a long-standing partner of the European Commission, VinylPlus is ready to help provide solutions that strike the right balance between transparency and workability.
VinylPlus’s commitments and sustainability schemes have attained impressive results. Take the area of recycling for instance, an indispensable component to ensuring the sustainable life cycles of products, preventing the generation of landfill waste and reducing emissions. Back in 2003, VinylPlus established Recovinyl®, a platform of recyclers and converters to facilitate PVC waste collection and recycling. Through these efforts, 6.5 million tons of PVC have been recycled into new products since 2000, preventing the release of nearly 13 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. Not only have these efforts improved PVC circularity, but they have also instigated positive spillovers like the creation of 1,500 direct jobs in recycling plants.
Further, Recovinyl ensures transparency by providing certified recycling figures annually while also monitoring material’s quality and safety through a system of traceability throughout the recycling chain. To further enhance Recovinyl’s recording and tracing system, VinylPlus also developed RecoTrace®, the first system to comply with the European Commission’s Circular Plastics Alliance’s monitoring requirements.
While we have much to be proud of, we know that these achievements are only milestones on the road to a sustainable future. That is why, to build an even more ambitious program, we worked alongside Accenture in 2020 for a three-month open process of external consultation — to gather input on key sustainability drivers, challenges and opportunities for the PVC industry to respond to in the next decade.
Product Label is the first scheme dedicated to plastic building and construction products to be recognized as a Responsible Sourcing Certification Scheme within BREEAM®, the world’s most-used green building standard.
With these insights, VinylPlus developed bottom-up its next 10-year commitment toward 2030 that identifies three pathways, further broken down into 12 action areas in alignment with EU policy objectives and the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Pathway 1: Scaling up PVC value chain circularity
Through Pathway 1, the European PVC industry commits to advancing toward full circularity of the PVC value chain and confirms its recycling commitments: 900,000 tons of PVC recycled per year into new products by 2025; and one million tons by 2030, made with the European Commission as a signatory to the Circular Plastics Alliance. To realize Pathway 1, the following action areas have been identified:
- advancing our circularity ambitions;
- fostering science-based solutions for the safe and sustainable use of additives;
- supporting innovative recycling technologies;
- and prioritizing circularity through ecodesign.
As research and innovation will play a critical role to achieve this objective, VinylPlus will concentrate efforts and resources to support technical projects, R&D and innovation in three main directions: improving existing collection and recycling schemes, and setting up new ones for additional PVC streams; supporting the development of recycling and sorting technologies; and investigating solutions to detect, sort and remove legacy additives from end-of-life PVC products.
Pathway 2: Advancing toward carbon neutrality and minimizing our environmental footprint
Taking urgent action to combat climate change is at the heart of Pathway 2. The action areas identified to realize Pathway 2 are:
- advancing toward carbon neutrality;
- embracing the sustainable use of chemical substances;
- minimizing our environmental footprint;
- and responsible supplier criteria and programs.
While the responsibility of working toward carbon neutrality and environmental footprint minimization falls upon VinylPlus’s partner companies, VinylPlus will play a facilitating role to encourage sectoral collaboration to raise the value chain’s ambitions in the use of sustainable feedstock.
Pathway 3: Building global coalitions and partnering for the U.N. SDGs
Pathway 3 was developed in recognition of the key role the U.N. SDGs play to advance global development, and promote human well-being and environmental protection.To achieve Pathway 3’s objective, the following action areas have been identified:
- ensuring transparency and accountability;
- contributing to sustainable development through certified and traceable products;
- engaging stakeholders in the sustainable transformation of the PVC industry;
- and partnering with stakeholders.
Stakeholder engagement, coalition building and forging partnerships have always been key to VinylPlus’s success. VinylPlus will continue to engage with a diverse set of stakeholders at regional and global levels, and encourage VinylPlus’s partner companies to adopt the most sustainable practices, while integrating maximum transparency and accountability in our own governance and reporting.
The VinylPlus 2030 commitment
VinylPlus has accomplished a lot since its beginnings, but it cannot stand still. VinylPlus is excited to continue to build on its legacy of 20-plus years. With its next 10-year commitment toward 2030, VinylPlus again confirms the united European PVC value chain’s dedication toward creating a sustainable future and to ensure that PVC remains a safe and circular material, fit for the circular economy.
VinylPlus® is the voluntary commitment to sustainable development of the European PVC industry, working to increase the sustainability performance of PVC.
*For more information on the VinylPlus 2030 commitment, please click here.