Sustainability Of PVC Analyzed By Ceresana

The consulting firm Ceresana has published a recent report in which it analyzes the PVC market and especially its relationship with the environment.

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is one of the oldest and most widely used plastics. The current situation in the sector is marked by the discussion about its prohibition for environmental and health reasons. However, the material is gaining appeal again today, as it is produced from common salt and chemical industry by-products, not just oil. So far, at least, its success remains: PVC is the best-selling thermoplastic, along with polyethylene and polypropylene. The latest Ceresana market study on polyvinyl chloride, which is already the seventh edition, predicts that the demand for PVC will continue to grow and reach 57.7 million tons worldwide in 2031.

PVC And its Relationship With The Environment

Flexible PVC that contains large amounts of plasticizers is especially controversial because toxic chemicals and heavy metals can be released during its production, use, and disposal. However, there is progress in recycling PVC: in Europe, more than 810,000 tonnes, or more than a quarter of all PVC waste, is already recycled each year. This means that the recycling rate of PVC is higher than that of other plastics. In response to the European Union’s Chemicals Strategy and Circular Economy Action Plan, there is strong commitment from manufacturers and processors of PVC, plasticisers and stabilizers in the EU, Norway, Switzerland and the UK. That commitment is the “VinylPlus” initiative, designed to improve the recycling and overall environmental performance of PVC. This takes the form of the development of biobased PVC grades and biobased additives made from renewable raw materials.

Construction, The Main Consumer of PVC

With a share of around 60%, the construction industry is the most important consumer sector for PVC and is expected to remain so in the future. In the construction industry, PVC is used for a wide range of applications, from flooring to roofing panels, from window and door frames to cables and cable jackets, anchors and fixings. The most important PVC products are tubes and pipes, which account for more than 37% of the total demand for PVC. They are followed by profiles with 20.1%, films and sheets with 18.1%.

In 2021, more than 7.3 million tons of PVC were processed in wastewater pipes around the world. And the market for PVC pipes for drinking water and industrial applications is somewhat smaller. Compared to concrete or metal, PVC pipes are much lighter. PVC also stands out for its resistance to corrosion and its insensitivity to UV rays, chlorine and ozone.

PVC Also For Packaging And Other Applications

The packaging industry ranks second as recipient of PVC. In fact, it processes 16% of the PVC produced worldwide in flexible and rigid packaging. And it is that PVC is used to manufacture packaging film, bags and sacks, as well as shrink and stretch films, but also containers for butter or yogurt, jars, bottles, boxes and lids.

Also, at a general level, PVC is used for many everyday products, such as credit cards, shoe soles, toilet seats and truck tarpaulins. Its electrical properties make PVC suitable for electrical tape and protective coatings for pliers or other tools. In medical technology, the high resistance of PVC to chemicals and disinfectants is an advantage, for example in transfusion bags, tubes, catheters and gloves.

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