Among the objectives present in the Voluntary Commitment of the European PVC supply chain, VinylPlus, has a decisive role to achieve 800,000 tons per year of PVC after mechanically recycled consumption by 2020.
This goal is about to be achieved considering that in 2018 there were about 771,313 tonnes recycled as can be seen from the trend of recycled quantities in recent years:
DIAGRAM FROM PROGRESS REPORT 2019
Thanks to a moderate but continuous increase in volumes in almost all European countries, vinylPlus PVC waste recycling reached 771,313 tonnes in 2019.
According to a study conducted by the German consultancy Conversio (www.conversio-gmbh.com) on behalf of VinylPlus, 2.5 million tonnes of PVC waste were available in Europe in 2016. The volumes recycled from VinylPlus above account for about 30% of this available waste.
In 2017, Recovinyl was the subject of a major reorganization, both in its management structure and in data collection and communication systems. The systemisation, in particular of control protocols, will continue into 2020.
During the year, Recovinyl further improved its monitoring and traceability systems throughout the recycling chain and carried out an investigation to see which applications recycled PVC waste had been used in 2018.
With 363,137 tonnes recycled in 2019, window profiles and related building products accounted for 47% of the total recycled PVC under VinylPlus.
During 2019, the main recycling markets experienced different trends: the volumes of recycled Rigid PVC is currently very high compared to the supply, and shows the potential to further strengthen collection and recycling schemes.
PVC waste management industry projects
Over the past three years, the use of recycled PVC in pipes by TEPPFA members has decreased and has now stabilised at around 40,000 tonnes per year.
Oreade’s chemical recycling process, under study at the Oreade-Suez plant in France, combines energy and material recovery. Following promising results from the 2017-2018 small-scale testing results, larger-scale trials have been planned for 2019 to test waste streams with different chlorine concentrations, delivering the first 100 tonnes of PVC waste. In the meantime, the process has been further optimised: a new concept for more efficient neutralisation has been developed and new equipment has been introduced that shreds PVC waste into smaller, homogeneous pieces.
A Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study was conducted in 2019 in accordance with international ISO 14040-44 environmental footprint standards during PVC incineration.
In the same year, a new project called Thermovinyl was launched by VinylPlus to assess the environmental characteristics of PVC waste treatment processes in Swiss energy waste treatment plants.
In Switzerland, some energy exhaust plants recycle the remaining sodium chemicals (via Resolest, as in the Oreade project). Others use the HCl recovered from flaring gas washing (from a wet washing process) to recycle metals from the bottom ash. The study will compare the environmental benefits of both processes.
The REMADYL project was launched in June 2019. which aims to remove dangerous legacy substances from PVC and recycle the “old PVC” in high-quality PVC. The REMADYL project involves a consortium of 15 multidisciplinary European partners, including VinylPlus. The three-year project is funded by the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation and managed by the EASME (Executive Agency for Small and Medium Businesses) to help develop the EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan.
The Resysta® Consortium (www.resysta.com/en)www.resysta.com/en) produces a recyclable wood-like material on rice peels and PVC. In 2019, Resysta continued its communication and promotional activities for its applications, and improved its controlled cycle recycling system, which now has 20 collection points in Europe.
RecoMed is a partnership project between the British Plastics Federation (BPF) and Axion to collect and recycle medical PVC devices not contaminated by UK hospitals, including face masks and tubes. The project currently involves 36 hospitals, and another 100 are ready for enrollment.
In 2019, more than 9,000 kg of medical devices were collected, equivalent to more than 746,000 sets of masks and tubes.
Since a soft PVC tax is likely to be reintroduced in Denmark, Danish manufacturers of flexible PVC have decided to set up a new organisation to promote collection and recycling systems for soft PVC along the lines of WUPPI.
WREP (Waste Recycling Project) was launched in 2016 by PVC Forum Italia to assess the potential for improving PVC recycling in Italy and to promote the development of pilot PVC waste collection and recycling systems. In the period 2018-2019, the project was developed in collaboration with Veritas, the utility operating in the Venice area (www.gruppoveritas.it); ARPAV, the Veneto Regional Agency for the Prevention and Protection of the Environment; Agency; and AEA, the Regional Representative of the Recovinyl of Italy. Of the project, the focus was on the recovery and recycling of PVC waste collected from urban waste at municipal collection centres. Several new municipal utilities were contacted in 2019 to assess their interest in the implementation of the project in their collection centres and other potential flows. ETRA S.p.A., the multi-utility system operating in the Padua and Vicenza (www.etraspa.it) areas, signed an agreement in July 2019 with PVC Forum Italy as part of its participation in the CIRCE2020 project, funded under the EU’s Interreg Central Europe programme. WREP programme is now part of CIRCE2020’s initiatives in Italy. The WREP project will continue in 2020 and will include a feasibility study for the design of a portable and economically viable NIR (infrared) detector to select PVC applications.
The EU Circular Plastics Alliance (CPA) is a collective effort to take action to strengthen the EU market for recycled plastics to 10 million tonnes by 2025, a target set by the European Commission in its 2018 plastics strategy.
VinylPlus has committed to recycle 900,000 tons of PVC per year into new products by 2025 and at least one million tons by 2030.
The Circular Plastics Alliance calls for the switch to zero plastic waste in nature and zero landfill, and is based on several concrete actions:
- Improving the design of plastic products to make them more recyclable
- Identifying solutions to further improve the collection, selection and recycling of plastic waste across the EU
- Establishing a research and development agenda for circular plastics,
- Creating a transparent and reliable monitoring system.
The operational work is ensured by six dedicated working groups, one for monitoring and five for the industrial sectors: Packaging; Automotive; Construction; Electronic and electrical equipment; agriculture.
VinylPlus will play a key role in contributing decades of experience and best practices to the activities of working groups and discussions on new definitions of post-industrial waste and consumers according to ISO standards.