Polyvinyl chloride, also known as PVC or vinyl, is not only the most used plastic for wire and cable in Europe. It is the third most widely used plastic with around 4 million tonnes being produced each year in Europe. The members of the European Council of Vinyl Manufacturers (ECVM) have worked tirelessly for more than two decades to make the production of PVC as safe and sustainable as possible. ECVM is a founding member of VinylPlus®, which covers the whole European PVC value chain.
Low carbon today, zero-carbon tomorrow
In contrast to other plastics, PVC is primarily made from chlorine derived from table salt. The high chlorine content of nearly 60% naturally makes PVC a low carbon material. Thanks to innovation and investments, bio-attributed and bio-circular PVC resin and non-fossil additives and compounds are available on the market. The European PVC industry is committed to advancing towards carbon neutrality, which is one of the targets in the new 2030 VinylPlus Commitment.
Voluntary charters and strict regulation ensure safe PVC production
PVC production processes have been continually improved in recent years and their environmental impact steadily reduced. Yet ECVM members, which cover 85% of the PVC produced in Europe, are constantly looking at ways to reduce environmental impacts and improve the eco-efficiency of their products through compliance with the ECVM Industry Charter, which comes on top of the Best Available Techniques (BAT) Reference Document (BREF) and EU Occupational Exposure Limits for EDC and VCM that strictly regulate PVC resin manufacturing in the European Union.
The first Charter was put in place in 1995. The successive versions of the Charter have set increasingly tight limits for any emissions to environment during PVC production and commits manufacturers to ensure a safe work environment. The industry-wide compliance with the requirements of the Charters is regularly checked by an independent third-party auditing body.
According to the European Chemicals Agency, "the risks from PVC resin to workers and the environment are considered adequately controlled with the current operational conditions and companies’ safety measures."
This statement emphasises the substantial progress in European PVC production, driven by stringent regulations, technological advancements, and proactive industry efforts to minimise environmental impact and ensure worker safety.
In addition, ECVM’s members have all signed up to Operation Clean Sweep®, a voluntary initiative to encourage and harmonize plastic pellet loss prevention measures in the plastics industry.
To learn more about the environmental impact of PVC manufacturing, check out the Environmental Product Declaration from Plastics Europe.
Dramatic decrease in environmental impacts of European chlorine production
Thanks to new energy mixes developed in many European countries and a complete switch to the membrane electrolysis process, the environmental impacts of the production of chlorine have been dramatically reduced in Europe during the last decade.
According to the latest Environmental Product Declaration for chlorine, the Global Warming Potential impact in 2020 has been reduced by 22.3% since 2011. Thanks to the high chlorine content in PVC (57%), these improvements automatically reduce the environmental impacts for PVC.