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Recycling investment and technology that pay off

Published on: 2014-08-13

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The PVC industry is comfortable using recovered pre-consumer offcuts from the production process. However, it can still be challenging to find reliable, high-quality sources of post-consumer waste. 

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The PVC industry is comfortable using recovered pre-consumer offcuts from the production process. However, it can still be challenging to find reliable, high-quality sources of post-consumer waste.

PVC Recycling Limited (www.pvcrecycling.co.uk), one of Recovinyl's longest-standing members, has been developing a process that recovers high-quality PVC powder and pellets from post-consumer PVC waste.

Recovinyl is an initiative of the European PVC industry. Its mission is to optimise the resource efficiency of the PVC industry by mediating between recyclers and converters to enable a trustworthy relationship and material flow based on a PVC recyclate certification system.

PVC Recycling Ltd Managing Directors Ian and Joanne Murray have overcome challenges along the way to prove their process and now supply recycled PVC powder and pellets to manufacturers worldwide. The technically-advanced plant has the capacity to recover in excess of 12,000 tonnes per year; with plenty of scope for expansion as the market develops.

This success attracted the attention of The North West Fund for Energy and the Environment, managed by 350 Investment partners, which has provided development funding to PVC Recycling. This has allowed Ian and Joanne to significantly expand their output and establish a specialist extrusion capability to help both manufacturers and users of PVC-based products benefit from the substantial margin and environmental advantages of using recycled post-consumer material.

PVC-U's (unplasticised PVC) environmental credentials are impressive with research suggesting that it can actually be recycled up to seven times without losing performance1. PVC windows and doors have an average 35 to 40-year lifespan, so at the end of their useful lives they can potentially be turned into many new and diverse products over several centuries.

Post-consumer recyclate performs exactly like virgin raw material for both extruders and end-users; and as a result of the firm's unique processes, it does not suffer from the visible inclusions that occur in other recycled material. It is suitable for manufacturing back into everyday products, from equestrian fencing to new PVC windows and plastic building products, such as fascias, soft fittings and guttering.

Dumping PVC in landfill takes up precious land and squanders valuable materials. As landfill is being progressively restricted in the European Union, recycling will increasingly become the principal, if not the only option for many end-of-life PVC products.

Collection, of course, is the starting point for recycling and hence it was the main focus for Recovinyl when it was created back in 2003. However, it is time for us to move beyond simply ensuring that the volumes of PVC being recycled each year increase. Going forward, Recovinyl's work will revolve around optimising the resource efficiency of the entire PVC industry by mediating between recyclers and converters to enable a trustworthy relationship and material flow based on a PVC recyclate certification system.

The final goal is to encourage the development of a 'pull market' for recycled PVC products. Only by doing so can we guarantee that recycling will help us preserve fossil fuels and land for future generations.

Eric Criel, Recovinyl General Manager

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