Department of the Environment

About us | Contact us | Publications

Settlements Header ImageSettlements Header ImageSettlements Header Image

Publications archive - Waste and recycling

Disclaimer

Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

End-of-life Environmental Issues with PVC in Australia

Prepared by Dr. John Scheirs,
ExcelPlas Polymer Technology (EPT) for
Environment Australia, June 2003

11. Appendix B - The Vinyloop® Process

The patented Vinyloop® batch process is based on the selective dissolution of PVC used in composites applications like cable insulation, flooring, tarpaulins, and blister packaging. MEK (methylethylketone) solution is used to dissolve the PVC. Special filtration is employed for the removal of insoluble parts such as natural and synthetic fibers, crosslinked PE, vulcanized rubber, PP, PUR, paper, metal, and other contaminants. The PVC is then reprecipitated with all additives preserved therein by the introduction of a non-solvent component that will form an azeotropic mixture with the selective solvent. The process is able to recover a pure PVC compound powder ready for use without any additional treatment like melt filtration or a new pelletization. The solvent is fully recovered and recycled within the process. Although the process is solvent based, the process counts as mechanical recycling since there is no change in the molecular structure of the PVC. The PVC compound resulting from the process is in an excellent form with virtually no 'fines'. Specific characteristics of the powder are: average diameter of 400 microns (with a very narrow particle size distribution) and bulk density above 600 kg/m3.

Vinyloop can recover PVC insulation from wire/cable choppings after the copper is removed. The wire chop contains about 50/50 PVC and rubber, so these materials are first separated with an electrostatic separator to yield material that is 85% PVC and 15% rubber.

It is important to note that PVC compound, not PVC resin, is recovered. In other words fillers, stabilizers and pigments are recovered along with the PVC resin and encapsulated in the final precipitated granules. This is advantageous since it means that the recovered PVC does not have to be restabilized or reformulated. Also, complex PVC compounds can be recovered without having to know what the precise composition is.

Another significant aspect of the Vinyloop process is that it is possible to adjust or modify the additive package in a PVC compound. For example, by the addition of suitable chelating agent it is possible to remove the heavy metal stabilizers from PVC compounds.

The Vinyloop process is economically viable with a 10,000 tonnes per year plant requiring a capital investment of 8.5 million euro (~A$15,200,000). The production cost would be 340 euro per tonne (~A$607/t) of recovered PVC. A selling price of 70% to 80% of the equivalent virgin price could be achieved.

Another advantage of the Vinyloop process includes its ability to handle all types of PVC composites as well as suspension PVC and emulsion PVC. The purity of the recovered PVC product is around 99.95% and the product is a consistent, free-flowing material. The process lends itself well to closed-loop recycling schemes. For example, PVC cable waste has been recycled into PVC compound for the production of new cable insulation, with no reduction in critical dielectric properties.

There is no solvent loss and no loss of PVC in the Vinyloop process. A 10,000 t/a plant has been installed in Ferrara, Italy and another six installations across Europe are being considered, including a second plant in Ferrara in 2003 for processing PVC-coated fabrics.

The Ferrara plant, owned and operated by a joint venture between Solvin, Adriaplast, Tecnometal and Vulcaflex is the first commercial plant using this technology. It is designed to treat 10 kt/a of cable waste. Mechanical completion of the plant was achieved in November 2001 and start-up was in January 2002.