PVC industry waits for verdict on green pledge
The European PVC industry\'s voluntary environmental commitment has achieved \"real progress\" in reducing green impacts over the last twelve months, according to a second annual progress review published today. The sector is anxiously waiting to learn whether it will face legislation, as the European Commission continues internal debate on an EU strategy for PVC.
Published by the European council of vinyl manufacturers (Ecvm) and independently verified by Det Norske Veritas, the review lists achievements such as an end to the marketing of cadmium-based PVC stabilisers, a new \"master plan\" for PVC flooring, and the completion of several trial recycling schemes.
Ecvm and other PVC chain members are lobbying hard for the commitment to be formally adopted by the EU as sufficient action to calm concerns over the plastic. But the original pledge received cool responses from both the European Commission and European Parliament and the industry has been forced to up the level of ambition.
Two more major targets were added to the commitment last October. Firstly, an original promise to cut use of lead stabilisers by 30% by 2010 has been upgraded to a total phase-out by 2015. And the recycling of PVC roofing membranes and flooring, currently at negligible levels, will rise to 50% of collected waste by 2005 and 2008 respectively.
This additional effort has split the Commission\'s environment and enterprise directorates, which are jointly responsible for formulating the strategy. While the latter now wants to accept the improved package, the former wants to see more effort.
The two departments recently got close to agreeing a compromise package, but this initiative has now apparently stalled. Originally planned for this month, the policy paper will not now be out until at least June. Whether it will be a white paper or a simple communication is also still unclear.
Some elements of the strategy are looking increasingly certain, however, sources told Environment Daily. An agreement to propose legislation banning cadmium stabilisers is \"virtually in the bag,\" and ongoing risk assessments on phthalate PVC softeners are expected to lead to legislation on at least one substance. A phase-out of PVC in particular applications is looking very unlikely, however, with one source saying the case for making this step was \"environmentally not proven\".
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