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End-of-life Environmental Issues with PVC in Australia

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

1. Objectives, Scope and Methodology

1.1 Objective and Scope

ExcelPlas Polymer Technology was commissioned by Environment Australia to identify and characterise:

The report identifies the range, quantities and life expectancies of the major PVC products and applications. It identifies current producers and suppliers of PVC products and additives in Australia, and the origin of these products and additives where they are imported. The report also identifies and characterises the end of life environmental issues and impacts relating to PVC, including leaving the product in situ, mechanical recycling, landfilling, incineration and waste to energy conversion.

1.2 Methodology

The methodology used for this study consisted of a review of the most recent peer-reviewed scientific literature in this area combined with interviews with leading experts and workers in this field.

Toxicological findings were reviewed by a recognized independent expert in the field. Technical and industrial issues were reviewed by a Technical Advisory Committee.

Due to the paucity of information related to the Australian situation especially in the area of waste-to-energy and landfilling data, extensive use is made of overseas examples and resources in these areas.

1.3 Report Limitations

This study is a technical overview of the end-of-life environmental issues with PVC in Australia. It does not address social and economic issues related to end-of-life PVC waste management. Life cycle analyses of various PVC disposal routes are also outside the scope of this study.

1.4 Acknowledgements

The author would like to acknowledge the assistance of the PVC industry in general for their cooperation and contribution toward this study. Numerous personal correspondence was undertaken with key individuals within the PVC industry and feedback and advice was invaluable.

Thanks also to Dr Roger Drew of Toxicos for review of toxicological aspects of the report.