The new annual report by the Australian PVC industry sheds light on the progress of its members in meeting their product stewardship responsibilities across the PVC value chain in 2013. The latest results show a significant increase in compliance against manufacturing commitments within the PVC industry’s Product Stewardship Program.

Chief Executive of the Vinyl Council of Australia , Ms Sophi MacMillan explains these commitments relate to the very start of the supply chain, activity which largely takes place overseas; collecting the relevant information from upstream suppliers can be a real challenge for Australian-based companies at the end of the supply chain.

The Vinyl Council was successful in sourcing crucial performance information from some overseas industry players for its members, enabling them to verify their compliance against the commitments. According to Ms MacMillan, their Program Signatories find it difficult to map out their supply chains for all their PVC products, and also to convince their suppliers to share relevant information and data. This, she says requires considerable engagement and education of supply chain partners.

The PVC industry’s Product Stewardship Program (the Program) is a voluntary initiative launched by the Vinyl Council of Australia in 2002. Since then, it has delivered major changes within the industry to improve the lifecycle of PVC products, as can be seen through the history of annual reports.

Signatories commit to the delivery of key undertakings in PVC manufacturing from feedstocks to end product; the safe use of additives and open disclosure; waste management; lifecycle thinking in design; research and public reporting.

One of the Program’s measures of success is for 80 percent of the signatories to achieve compliance with at least 80 percent of relevant commitments in the Program. The year 2013 has seen significant progress against this milestone, with a 19 percent jump from 2012 in the number of signatories reaching or exceeding the target. Almost two-thirds of the Program’s signatories met or surpassed the 80 percent target, with eight Signatories achieving full compliance.

To recognise their efforts, the past year has also seen the introduction of an award for Product Stewardship Program Excellence given to those Signatories that achieve full compliance against the Program’s commitments.

2013 saw the official launch of in the PVC Recovery Hospitals program, an initiative aimed at diverting high quality, recyclable PVC medical product waste towards recycling solutions. The Program is proving to be of much interest in the sector, with 19 healthcare facilities signed on and an estimated 13 tonnes of waste diverted during its first year of implementation.

An evaluation of the effectiveness of implementing the PVC Product Stewardship Program over the period 2007 to 2012 was conducted in 2012-13, and the findings published in December 2013. The report identified the progress of the industry during that period in meeting commitments, such as the dramatic reduction in lead stabiliser use, but also some of the challenges ahead.

One of the recommendations of the Five Year Review was to strengthen the commitments around waste reduction and management. As a result, a new commitment is being developed for the Program, which will include new recycling measures and targets for the PVC sector.