British PVC firms agree new green standards

Retailer pressure leads to voluntary eco-efficiency code of practice for PVC makers

UK PVC makers today launched an environmental code of practice in cooperation with retailers that had earlier challenged them to clean up or lose sales. The move follows a pledge to create performance guidelines in a charter signed last year by the two sides (ENDS Daily 15 April 1999).

The eco-efficiency code has been developed by UK manufacturers EVC International and Hydro Polymers, four national supermarket retailers, and the National Centre for Business and Ecology (NCBE). The group was chaired by a prominent British environmentalist, Jonathon Porritt.

The code sets a wide range of environmental standards for PVC manufacture, plus targets for future improvement. Standards are claimed to be stricter than required by law, as well as those pledged last year for vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) emissions by nine European PVC manufacturers (ENDS Daily 9 February 1999). Each standard will be measured through total environmental load per tonne of PVC produced and per individual manufacturing site.

Standards include emissions and accidental releases of VCM, ethylene dichloride, carbon dioxide, and ozone-depleting substances. The total amount of dioxins in waste sent off-site for disposal to landfill will be quantified per tonne of PVC. Local environmental impacts will be monitored, and PVC firms are also required to achieve certification under the ISO 14001 international environmental management standard by 2002.

PVC manufacturers expressed satisfaction with the code today, and predicted that other materials would come under the same spotlight in future. "Retailers and other stakeholders [must] have complete confidence that materials have been manufactured using best practice," said a spokesperson for major supplier EVC. "Although the spotlight has been on the PVC industry, we expect the process [to] be applied more widely to other materials."

Follow Up:
NCBE, tel: +44 161 295 5276; EVC, tel: +44 1928 57 01 16.

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