The Southern African Vinyls Association (Sava) will launch its Vinyl. product label and industry-specific stamp of quality next year to promote local compliant polyvinyl chloride (PVC) products and to ensure that local PVC products, with the Sava-endorsed mark of quality, are nontoxic and environmentally sustainable.
The Vinyl. product label will also ensure that local PVC products do not have carcino- genic, mutagenic or reprotoxic additives.
“With the launch of the Vinyl. product label we hope to distinguish between products imported from China that do not comply with strict health, safety and environmental standards from those manufactured locally by an industry serious about its health and safety responsibility,” says Sava CEO Delanie Bezuidenhout.
She notes that not all consumers are able to make an informed decision when differentiating between substandard imports, possibly made using unsafe production methods, and local PVC products made according to high standards as prescribed by Sava’s voluntary Product Stewardship Programme as signed by all Sava members.
“Our industry is committed to producing PVC products that are made using sustain- able production methods, that do not contain harmful additives and can be responsibly recycled at end-of-life. A concern is that imports do not have the same commitment to sustainability and safety.
“It is sometimes more expensive to have a safer product and this puts the local industry at a disadvantage – although imports are cheaper, they are not the same quality and do not meet the required safety standards,” Bezuidenhout states.
She adds that the industry wants to ensure that people, who procure PVC products, do so within the Sava Product Stewardship Programme guidelines and are recognisable with the Vinyl. product label.
“Hopefully it will assist buyers in making a more informed decision,” notes Bezuidenhout.
Germany Fact-Finding Tour
Meanwhile, Sava participated in a five-day educational and fact-finding tour to Germany in October 2013.
“We timed our trip to Europe to coincide with the yearly K-Show – the plastics trade show that takes place in Düsseldorf,” Bezuidenhout explains.
During their two-day stopover in Düsseldorf, she notes, the Sava delegation visited many of the stands at the expo and held meetings with their South African clients and European colleagues who also attended this international showcase and trading platform.
“Despite the various technological advancements that were on display at the show, it was noticeable that sustainability was at the top of the agenda. We were impressed and inspired by the way in which the European plastics role-players package their sustainability message to the market, but we were also encouraged by South Africa’s not lagging behind in this regard,” she notes.
Bezuidenhout adds that Sava will continue with its sustainability efforts and programmes to educate the consumer about plastics, and more specifically vinyl products.
Sava visited the Walla Floors factory, in Düsseldorf, which recycles cable scrap into interlocking floor-tile solutions. They also visited one of the world’s largest PVC window and door profile producers VEKA.
“Germany recycles about 300 000 t of PVC each year and we were eager to learn how they structure their businesses and manage their collection system. To this end, we went on several factory tours and had in-depth discussions about Germany’s products, processes and the challenges it faced in terms of collecting used PVC products for recycling,” Bezuidenhout says.
The Sava delegation also held meetings with the Association for PVC Floor Covering Recycling in Europe that is responsible for collecting post-consumer vinyl flooring products in Germany and identified some opportunities for a similar programme in South Africa.
“Before our tour, we admittedly had cer- tain preconceived ideas about what we thought the challenges would be and what we had expected to find in Europe. It became clear that we are all facing the same challenges and use many of the same processes and equipment. How we deal with those challenges makes the difference and it is always good to learn from others’ experiences,” she points out.
Bezuidenhout notes that various joint projects are aimed at improving the image of PVC in the marketplace, including regular communication to the market about the facts of PVC and PVC recycling, increasing the collection and recycling of rigid and flexible PVC, preventing used and discarded PVC from being exported to other countries and using technology to effectively connect PVC waste with PVC recyclers.
“We might be oceans apart, but the challenges we face with regard to plastics recycling in general, and PVC recycling specifically, are not unique. It was encouraging to see that we are on the right track with what we are doing in South Africa and, in some cases, we were even able to help and educate our European cousins. We hope that this will be the first of many engagements with them as we take hands to change the image of PVC worldwide,” she says.