The latest developments in PVC formulations and best practice manufacturing were discussed at the PVC AUS 2018: Shaping the Future, a two-day event organised in March by Vinyl Council of Australia in Sydney.

Delegates at the PVC industry event learnt about the latest advances in technology, sustainability and product stewardship over the last 20 years, which have helped to transform the PVC sector across Australia and turn vinyl into a ‘sound choice of material’.

Vinyl Council Chief Executive Sophi MacMillan commented: “We are driving continuous improvement through the industry in Australia, for both locally-made and imported products, and this is driving change through PVC product supply chains.

“One of the longest standing product stewardship programs in Australia, our PVC Stewardship Program is leading in many areas. These include its lifecycle approach, specific and measurable commitments, transparency, and focus on continuous improvement across the value chain.”

Currently 47 companies, representing the majority of the Australian PVC industry, are Signatories to the Program. These companies include manufacturers of PVC resin, additives and end-products, PVC compounders and product importers. Major PVC applications represented in the Program include companies manufacturing or importing packaging, cables, windows, flooring, pipes, formwork, medical products, and profiles. 

Industry successes highlighted by Sophi included a 99.45% reduction in lead additive use since 2002; Signatories’ 90% compliance with the PVC Industry Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Charter; and several PVC recycling initiatives covering advertising banners, commercial vinyl flooring and medical devices.

In his US perspective on ‘Vinyl for a Purpose-Driven Sustainable Development’, Cristian Barcan, VP Sustainability & Industry Affairs at the Vinyl Institute covered key sustainability achievements including a 90% reduction in VCM emissions since 1983 and the elimination of lead and cadmium stabilisers. More than 450,000 tonnes of PVC are recycled annually in the US.

Dr Tracy Wakefield of Plustec Pty Ltd outlined the benefits of uPVC Tilt n Turn windows and how their functionality, in terms of low maintenance, ease-of-cleaning, security and superior ventilation suits Australia’s climate, making them the future of windows in the country.

Given that 85% of windows installed in Australian homes are still single-glazed, Gerhard Hoffmann of Greiner Extrusion emphasised how the insect-proof, thermally-efficient, 100% recyclable and corrosion-resistant properties of uPVC windows represent a cost-effective fenestration opportunity.

Dane Tallen of stabiliser manufacturers Baerlocher explained how calcium-based solutions could provide cost-effective and sustainable solutions for injection moulding applications, while Dexter Chan from Arkema discussed the improved performance merits of acrylic impact modifiers in replacing chlorinated polyethylene (CPE) in rigid PVC. Dennis Collins from PVC Separation explained how their two-stage chemical and environment-friendly process works for a variety of materials recycling, from PVC construction products to shoes, medical and food packaging items.

Dario Soncin of PlasMec covered the latest developments in PVC dry blend preparation that can contribute to energy savings. Christian Birzer of Krauss-Maffei Berstorff revealed interesting advances in plastic processing machinery, including increasing the speed limit for pipe, raising the production density and flexibility of pelletizing, and narrowing the limits for u-PVC sheet extrusion.

Arjen Sevenster, Technical and Environmental Affairs Senior Manager at the European Council of Vinyl Manufacturers (ECVM) highlighted major sustainability progress in the European PVC industry and how the VinylPlus Voluntary Commitment is supporting the Circular Economy objectives for PVC.

Sophi concluded by saying that the conference drew nearly 150 people and featured a high calibre of speakers and content. The event also demonstrated that PVC, as a durable, low-carbon plastic with the potential for circularity, can contribute to shaping a more sustainable future for all.

PVC AUS 2018: Shaping the Future was supported by headline sponsors Austria-based Greiner Extrusion GmbH, Krauss-Maffei Berstorff from Munich, Germany and Italian machinery manufacturer PlasMec.