Business as Usual - ‘Vinyl 2010’, The Voluntary Commitment of the PVC

Publication - 2 May, 2002
An examination of the contribution that the PVC Industry’s Voluntary Commitment makes in response to the European Commission’s Green PaperEnvironmental Issues of PVC and the health and environmentalconcerns posed by PVC plastic.

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Executive summary: In July 2000 the European Commission published a Green Paper on ‘Environmental Issues of PVC’, which clearly documented the problems presented by post-consumer PVC waste. It showed how the problem is set to grow, as PVC used in long-life products since the 1960’sincreasingly enters the waste stream, with no environmentally acceptable solution for the majorityof this PVC waste. The European Parliament (EP) has recognised the significance of this issueand has called for specific measures to address the problems of PVC. The most far-reaching of these is a request to the European Commission to present as soon as possible a “long-term horizontal strategy which would allow substitution policies to be introduced based on a comparative analysis of alternative products throughout their lifecycle for various categories of products including, in particular, productsdirectly linked to human health, disposable products and products that are difficult to separate”.The EU Commission intends to present a comprehensive Community Strategy on PVC in the coming months. This will not be the first time that PVC, or aspects of its life cycle, have been addressed by regulatory authorities. Hazardous substances such as dioxins, which are by-products of the production and disposal of PVC, have been targeted for elimination by internationalconventions. Other hazardous additives used in PVC are also regulated or targeted for phase-out,at national and international level.The European PVC industry has tried to resist effective regulation over the years. Most recently, they have proposed a Voluntary Commitment (Vinyl 2010), which attempts to divert theattention away from the problems recognised by the European Commission in its Green Paper.‘Vinyl 2010’ is used by the industry in discussions with the European Commission and Parliament in a bid to convince them that the PVC industry itself can address the various problems related to PVC, and that there is no need for regulation.This report examines the commitments made by the industry and compares them with the full extent of the environmental impact of PVC.

Num. pages: 40