Position Statement on the impact of PVC pipes on the environment and public health

PVC is one of the best researched and best understood plastics.

It has come to the attention of the BPF Pipes Group that PVC products are being excluded from the market due to the lack of readily available information on material production and end-of-life processes.

Manufacture of PVC in Europe accounts for just 0.035% of emissions to the air from all European sources. Emissions of vinyl chloride monomer are strictly controlled by legislation and production emissions today are significantly below the required legal limit.

The disposal process of PVC is not only safe but also provides a second life rather than using new resource. In 2015, 508,154 tonnes of PVC were recycled in the EU and by 2020 up to 800,000 tonnes of PVC per year will be recycled to create ‘second life’ products. Furthermore, the UK PVC industry alone contributed over 20% of the 2015 EU tonnage for recycled PVC and since 2010 has been an active member of the voluntary VinylPlus commitment (www.vinylplus.eu); which highlights and addresses the sustainability opportunities of PVC material. From a technical point of view, PVC is relatively easy to recycle, either by itself or in combination with other plastics wastes.

PVC can also be cleanly and safely incinerated in any incinerator. All substances (including wood and food waste) containing chlorine have the potential, when burned, to form dioxins. Studies in Europe and in the UK have shown that the presence of PVC in an incinerator makes no difference to the level of dioxins emitted into the atmosphere.

The production, use and disposal of PVC, including unplasticised PVC for pipes, does not pose a threat to the environment or public health.

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