Vinyl 2010 is preparing Vinyl 2020. The PVC industry is ready for a new challenge!

Vinyl 2010 is preparing Vinyl 2020. The PVC industry is ready for a new challenge!Participants and speakers at the recent Vinyl 2010 conference in Berlin, including representatives from the European Commission’s DG Enterprise and Industry, Sustainable Development Agencies and Industry bodies, agreed that Vinyl 2010’s sustainability targets, are not only a great example of self-regulation, but are in line with European Union policy on reducing emissions and lowering energy consumption, in the production process. The organisation is also making great progress in its recycling programme, as well as actively encouraging the reduction of hazardous additives, going well beyond legal requirements.

View the conference on-demand: at Vinyl2010Berlin2009.orgDelegates also noted that while Vinyl 2010 is on track to meet its extremely challenging recycling targets, 2009 is proving to be a demanding year, due to the prevailing economic climate.Conference delegates also discussed the need to develop incentives to encourage the use of recycled materials, and the added value of the potential enlargement of the voluntary commitment of the European PVC industry at global level.Bernhard Bogardt, President of the European Plastic Converters (EuPC), told the General Assembly how the plastics processing industry was progressing under present challenging economic conditions. He noted that: ‘PVC is a great material – it’s a real problem to replace,’ continued Bogardt, noting that PVC had not suffered as severely as other industries. But the real crisis for PVC SMEs might occur ironically when demand eventually increases. ‘Expanding businesses need access to cash,’ he said. So alleviating the credit crunch is imperative for businesses to survive. Johannes Kreissig, board member of the German Sustainable Building Council, told participants that sustainability was not just good for the environment, but also good for business. However, he noted: ‘Sustainability must be affordable; otherwise people will not use it’.

The German Council has been instrumental in the creation of Germany’s Sustainability Rating Scheme, a system which goes further than previous green rating schemes in that it takes economic, social, functional and technical factors into account as well as the three traditional pillars of sustainable development. ‘There are four basic principles,’ outlined Kreissig. ‘The process is certified – from planning to construction to the end result’.According to The Natural Step’s Karl-Henrik Robèrt, ‘There are no sustainable materials, just as there are no non-sustainable materials. There are only sustainable and non-sustainable management practices. PVC has enormous possibilities: it’s durable, light and strong,’ continued Robèrt. Robèrt recommends that all PVC stakeholders – NGOs, associations, academia, industry, regulators – need to first agree on principles that are scientifically robust, distinct and concrete and yet general enough to accommodate a wide range of different circumstances and stages of development. His colleague David Cook lauded Vinyl 2010 as ‘the gold standard of how industry can get on with things and provide leadership on challenging issues’. For the future, he stressed the need for timetables and ‘a coherent, long-term vision of what’s to be achieved in 30 years’, which can then be used as a reference for short-term plans. ‘Business as usual is not an option. A global approach is needed,’ he said, ‘because an incident elsewhere undermines work done here in Europe’.The Vinyl 2010 conference titled ‘Talking Sustainability for Business’ took place at the Hotel Concorde in Berlin on May 13th. Speakers and delegates addressed the successes and challenges of Vinyl 2010, particularly in relation to all stakeholders having a responsibility to make sustainability an achievable reality.