Vinyl Council calls for stronger local recycling

The Vinyl Council has called on industries and manufacturers to support and strengthen the local recycling industry.

It follows the announcement that the Vinyl Council’s PVC Recycling in Hospitals program has been unaffected by China’s National Sword policy.

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The National Sword policy restricts the amount of recycled waste exports that can be sent to China.

Vinyl Council Chief Executive Officer Sophi MacMillan said the Vinyl Council is proud of its flourishing industry program which has remained unaffected by the changes in international waste management strategies.

“We would like to see greater support and incentives from government to encourage local design and manufacturing of products that use recyclate to drive demand for recyclate use in Australia,” Ms MacMillan said.

“This example-setting program is growing precisely because it is supported by the local vinyl manufacturing industry and the healthcare sector as product consumers. It is a clear demonstration that circularity within Australia can work,” she said.

PVC Recycling in Hospitals has diverted almost 200 tonnes of PVC waste from hospitals from landfill to recycling across more than 130 hospitals throughout Australia and New Zealand.

PVC recycled from hospital waste is turned into products such as garden hoses and outdoor playground matting.

“We seek to assure the healthcare sector and its staff that the PVC Recycling in Hospitals is strong and not affected by China’s ban on unsorted materials,” Ms MacMillan said.

“All the medical waste collected under the program has always been, and continues to be, reprocessed and used here in Australia or in New Zealand.”

Vinyl Council research new solutions to recycle PVC

A Vinyl Council of Australia research project has identified new recycling approaches in a bid to use 1.2 million square metres of PVC advertising banners sent to Australian landfills each year.

The REMAKE Project researched the challenges of recycling vinyl coated polyester woven fabrics, including the 5000 tonnes of billboard skins, grain covers, and truck tarpaulins sent to landfill each year.

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Studies were launched into cost effective techniques to create end products and markets for the recycled material. These studies found a number of possible options, from bags, safety floor mats, garden containers and roof tiles.

Three of these designs are being assessed for commercial viability following prototyping.

The project has encouraged industry and government to invest more than $300,000 into PVC recycling. According to the Vinyl Council of Australia, finding a solution to recycling outdoor media is important as the cost of sending billboard skins to landfill is around $200,000 per year.

Commenting on the REMAKE project, Vinyl Council Chief Executive Sophi MacMillan said that more work is needed to find a long-term, market-based, viable solution.

“The durability, weatherability and flexibility of these materials make them an excellent choice for many applications, yet they have been previously difficult to recycle. As a priority recycling area, this project has shown great potential for recovering these resources for use in new products,” Ms MacMillan said.

“Further encouragement by government and the community of circular economy programs like ours would lift recycling rates, support reprocessing of complex products as well as generate jobs and promote innovation. This would lead to a step change in diverting difficult, but quality products from landfill and a move towards greater sustainability,” she said.

“While there is still more work to do, if we find a viable reprocessing technology and end product solution, then this has the potential to be replicated overseas.”