Innovation: a key priority for the sustainable PVC future
Innovation, in all its shapes and forms, will be a key driver for the evolution of the PVC industry in the next decade: innovative thinking and creative solutions, more investment in research and development, re-using existing products and resources in new applications, etc. This is one of the main conclusions reached at this year’s PVC Event in Cascais, where all participants perceived innovation to be the best way to increase competitiveness and progress toward sustainability.
The PVC industry is rich in examples showing its dynamism, creativity and forward-thinking, even in the current difficult economic period. In Australia, for example, the Vinyl Council is using innovation to generate new market opportunities in the green building and construction sector, by developing new skills, products and applications, as well as working with partners who can bring a different perspective to the PVC industry’s work. This approach has already resulted in new climate-proof applications, resistant to fire, floods or earthquakes.
In Japan, the Vinyl Environmental Council has been promoting PVC Design Contests, with the aim to stimulate communications and cooperation among the different players of the vinyl supply chain. The ultimate goal is to set up bridges between design communities and SMEs in order to develop competitive products with original design.
In Europe, thanks to the development of new collection and recycling schemes, new opportunities have been identified to develop innovative recycling technologies and products. An interesting example comes from Spain, where Zicla, a company specialised in recycling and waste management has developed several traffic calming and traffic management devices made of recycled plastics including PVC. Its most successful product is a traffic separator for bicycle lanes made of 100% recycled PVC. This product, developed in a ‘collaborative innovation’ process with engineers, designers, and customers, was awarded 2nd prize at the 2011 Best Recycled European Product Awards.
Innovation is at the core of the Europe 2020 Strategy, looking to create smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. The "Innovation Union" is one of the seven flagship initiatives announced as part of this strategy and the European PVC industry is committed to contributing to it. No surprise that scientific research and innovation are among the working principles of VinylPlus: sustainability cannot be achieved without innovation and therefore, the necessary mechanisms are already being put into place today to guarantee the future of the industry and its products.