Stepping towards Sustainability

“The world has changed
 in many ways. Confrontational campaigning is regrettably still necessary when issues remain disregarded by recalcitrant or willfully ignorant enterprises or regimes. But the mainstream of
 society is now far more literate with respect to these concerns, recognising the need to proactively engage with them, whether as a matter of prudent risk management, corporate morality or other motives. 
 We are also increasingly aware that the world cannot change overnight to attain a perfect end-goal. Steady, incremental progress, building stepwise towards a clearly articulated ‘perfect’ longer-term target is not only sensible, but possibly the only viable approach.”

Stepping towards sustainabilityIn his article ‘Stepping towards Sustainability’ Dr Mark Everard, a Visiting Research Fellow with the University of West England since 1997, pursuing his interests in ecosystem services and systems approaches to sustainable development, argues that good intentions could derail the sustainable journey.

One materials sector that has seen its fair share of both confrontation campaigning and also serious subsequent commitments to engage with the sustainable development agenda is the European PVC industry. Volumes of recycled PVC rose to 444,468t in 2013, up nearly 23% from the previous year despite the adverse economic climate, averting landfill and incineration, resource waste and demand for virgin materials.

Further progress was made reducing emissions of organochlorine substances, 
 with additional work addressing risks during transport of major raw materials. The use of lead stabilisers continued to decline across the EU-27, down by 81% relative to 2007, and is en-route to being phased out by the end of 2015.

Research into energy reduction in processes and materials has continued, encompassing the feasibility of using alternative renewable materials that may include waste. And, reflecting that PVC products have life cycles spanning all sectors of society, the first VinylPlus Sustainability Forum was held in Turkey in April 2013, spreading awareness across the vinyl industry, including its supply chains, and the UN, EU and other bodies.