The development and consolidation of collection and recycling schemes for window profiles continued in 2015, with a further increase (+14.12%) in recycled volumes compared to the previous year. In total 232,757 tonnes of PVC window profiles and related products were recycled within the VinylPlus framework. In Germany, a major contribution came from Rewindo, which recycled 100,000 tonnes of window profiles (reported as part of Recovinyl volumes). In 2015, Rewindo carried out several best practice projects together with municipalities, waste management companies and window makers.
EPPA’s activities focused on communications, with the aim of further stimulating recycling; and on advocacy related to legacy additives, which remains a priority for the short term. The projects included active participation in the development of a ‘Practical Guidance for Plastics Recycling under REACH and Waste Legislation in Germany’, in collaboration with the competent authorities and other industry associations; and the evaluation of the socio-economic impact of using recycled PVC from windows as a contribution to EU discussions on the circular economy.
The 2015 annual report by VITO stated that TEPPFA members used close to 88,000 tonnes of PVC recyclates in 2014, a 10.6% increase over 2013, mainly thanks to the addition of new members.
In the Netherlands, BureauLeiding-BIS progressed fulfilling the Dutch Ministry’s demand to reduce PVC’s environmental impact through recycling by 20% by 2015.
TEPPFA is continuing to work on the legacy additives issue together with VinylPlus and EuPC. Indeed, the annual TEPPFA Forum event, which took place in Brussels in April 2015 and involved more than 200 stakeholders, focused on recycling of long-life products and legacy substances in the framework of relevant EU regulations such as REACH, CLP and Waste Framework Directive.
Uncertainties linked to the EU regulatory framework on the use of recycled PVC caused the piping industry to postpone investments in new products such as multi-layer pipes with recyclates.
Advocacy and communications activities continued in 2015 to promote high-quality PVC pipes, the use of recyclates in high-quality, long-life products, and the EPDs finalised for the most important product groups.
ESWA recycled 3,249 tonnes of roofing and waterproofing membranes in 2015 through its project Roofcollect®. The volumes recycled decreased compared to 2014, due to the lack of availability of waste for collection and organisational changes in some recycling companies. Still, ESWA remains in line with its commitment to recycle at least 50% of collectable, available used roofing membranes. Contact was made with an Italian company, which could lead to the collection and pre-treatment of roofing membranes in Italy.
EPFLOOR collected 4,101 tonnes of flooring waste and produced 3,938 tonnes of R-PVC in 2015, a 19% increase on the previous year.
Tiles containing recycled PVC flooring were launched on the market in 2015 by Novafloor in the framework of the Turquoise project. Contacts with retailers are ongoing for the commercialisation of the product. A contract has already been signed for more than 15 swimming pool areas.
The National Technical University of Athens and the Fraunhofer IVV Institute continued to investigate a solvent-based recovery process for difficult-to-recycle PVC waste, carrying out tests on the extraction of DEHP and the recovery of PVC on a laboratory scale. Further tests on a pilot scale are foreseen for 2016.
EPFLOOR was dissolved at the end of 2015, but the flooring industry remains committed to recycling and to the Voluntary Commitment, and a new organisational structure is under evaluation.
EPCoat (IVK Europe PVC Coated Fabrics Sector Project) recycled 4,263 tonnes of PVC-coated fabrics during 2015 (reported as part of Recovinyl volumes) through its collection and recycling scheme, a 18.8 increase on the previous year. Coated fabrics consist of a polyester fibre web whose surface is coated with soft PVC.
In 2015, ERPA started to cooperate with the recycling company Neidhardt on the recycling of pharmaceutical blister packaging. The vast majority of pharmaceutical blister packs in Europe are made with rigid PVC and aluminium films. The PVC film is thermoformed to hold the tablets in cavities and welded to a cover film made of aluminium, which makes the recycling of pharmaceutical blister packs far from easy. Neidhardt can separate PVC and aluminium, and in 2015 it recycled 727 tonnes of PVC-aluminium blisters, producing 485 tonnes of R-PVC.
In addition, ERPA member CIFRA recycled 440 tonnes of food packaging in 2015. In total, 24,371 tonnes of PVC rigid films were recycled in 2015 within the VinylPlus framework.