PVC industry pans EU Commission studies

Waste management analyses "misinterpret data, use questionable techniques," say firms

Flawed experimental techniques and mistaken interpretation of industry data in a recent series of studies on PVC waste management exaggerate the polymer's threat to the environment, according to four industry associations. The five studies, four of which were published last month, were carried out for the European Commission. They concluded that PVC recycling levels would not exceed 20% and that both incineration and landfilling are problematic (ENDS Daily 13 April).

The PVC industry, comprising the European Council of Vinyl Manufacturers (ECVM), the European Council for Plasticisers and Intermediates, the European Stabilisers Producers' Association and the European Plastics Converters, is fighting to prevent the EU proposing any restrictions on PVC in a forthcoming Commission policy paper. The paper is expected to be largely influenced by the five studies.

In a statement, most of the industry's criticism is directed at a study into PVC landfilling (ENDS Daily 14 April). The industry says the study fails to make a distinction between PVC municipal and construction wastes, resulting is a three-fold overestimate of the amount of PVC landfilled. Even worse, it adds, the study claims that 28% of heavy metals in landfills come from PVC. The real figure is 3% or even lower, it says. The study also used "questionable" methods to test degradation of PVC, it alleges.

The Commission consultants' findings on the volume of future PVC waste also come under fire; the associations say that, by using unrealistic "theoretical" projections, they overestimated the amount of waste that would be produced. Much PVC waste is "unavailable" in applications such as underground piping, they say, though they do not contest the finding that mechanical recycling levels are unlikely to go beyond 18%.

A spokesman for ECVM said today it would feed the criticisms into ongoing talks with the Commission on PVC waste management. The industry has proposed signing a voluntary agreement in which it would commit to reach recycling levels of 50% for "high-quality" waste PVC pipes and window frames by 2005. In return it wants the Commission to propose "no further action" on PVC waste. The Commission has yet to respond to the offer.

Follow Up:
ECVM, tel: +32 2 675 2971. The industry's critique of the Commission's studies will be posted on ECVM's website.

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