Scrunching the issue of soft plastics

The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) has compiled a comprehensive gap analysis on the market barriers to recovering soft plastics. Waste Management Review sat down with APCO’s Brooke Donnelly to discuss how it fits into the broader plastics issue.

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Vinyl Council awards 17 companies for stewardship excellence

The Vinyl Council of Australia has awarded 17 companies that achieved PVC Stewardship Excellence this year.

Companies who have achieved perfect scores in compliance with a set of stringent criteria related to the production and supply of vinyl related products are eligible for the award.

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The Australian PVC Stewardship Program began in 2002 to educate and guide the local vinyl industry to become stewards of their products throughout the entire life cycle of their products.

It binds signatories to continuous improvement in the environmental footprint of their products, whether they manufacture locally or overseas.

Importers and distributors of finished products are required to engage with their entire supply chain overseas to ensure they are compliant to the program.

Signatories are required to report annually against the criteria and each company’s performance is measured and benchmarked against the industry.

The stewardship commitments and targets related to best practice manufacturing, including raw material sourcing, safe and sustainable use of additives, energy and greenhouse gas emissions of PVC product manufacturers, resource efficiency, and transparency and engagement.

The winners of the 2017 Excellence in PVC Stewardship Awards include:

  • Australian Plastic Profiles
  • Australian Vinyls Corporation
  • Baxter Healthcare
  • Chemiplas Australia
  • Chemson Pacific
  • Formosa Plastics Corporation, Taiwan
  • Iplex Pipelines Australia
  • Pipemakers
  • Primaplas Australia
  • PT Asahimas Chemical, Indonesia
  • RBM Plastics Extrusions (new signatory in 2017)
  • Serge Ferrari (new signatory in 2017)
  • Sun Ace Australia
  • Speciality Polymers and Chemicals
  • Tarkett Australia
  • Techplas Extrusions
  • Vinidex

The Vinyl Council’s PVC Stewardship Manager Laveen Dhillon said all 17 companies have excelled, with 10 of this year’s award recipients receiving the award for the award for the first time, including two signatories that had joined the program in 2017.

“These signatories worked with the Vinyl Council to map out their entire supply chain so as to address relevant program commitments. All the Award recipients should be recognised as industry leaders who have worked in collaboration with their supply chains to meet and exceed program goals” Ms Dhillon said.

“Transparency through the supply chain is essential to improve efficiency, reduce impact and track the practices of suppliers. One signatory reported finding that communication and credibility among its suppliers has improved each year, as it has repeatedly requested stewardship information. We hope transparency and engagement continues to improve in this way.”

PVC Recycling in Hospitals scheme to reach 150 hospitals by end of 2018

The Vinyl Council of Australia aims to expand its PVC Recycling in Hospitals program to cover 150 hospitals by the end of 2018.

After launching in 2009, the recycling program has grown to operate in 138 hospitals throughout Australia and New Zealand. It is managed by the the Vinyl Council of Australia and its member partners: Baxter Healthcare, Aces Medical Waste and Welvic Australia.

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More than 200 tonnes of PVC waste from hospitals has been diverted from landfill to recycling over the past year. The material is redirected to reprocessors, which use the recycled polymer in new products such as garden hoses and outdoor playground matting.

The program partners also explore designs for new product applications for the material generated through the program.

Vinyl Council Chief Executive Sophi MacMillan says thanks to the great support and enthusiasm from healthcare professionals, the PVC Recycling in Hospitals program is now operating in every state in Australia, except the Northern Territory.

“It’s a great example of how the healthcare sector can demonstrate leadership in PVC sustainability and recover high quality material that can be genuinely recycled locally for use in new products,” Ms MacMillan said.

“We are currently looking at further end product applications for the recyclate.

“New South Wales is one of our priorities given it only has 11 hospitals participating in the program at the moment. As the state with the biggest population in Australia, the opportunity to grow the program there is really good.”

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.”