Why European policymakers shouldn’t listen to NGOs in PVC matters

Proposed phase-out would hamper the round financial system in well being care, says PVCMed Alliance.  

After mendacity dormant for years, the PVC debate is as soon as once more alive and kicking in Europe. NGOs are presently lobbying European policymakers to develop phase-out plans for the plastic materials in well being care and elsewhere. In a new extensive review, PVCMed Alliance argues that as we speak’s NGOs lack scientific rigor in PVC issues and ignore European progress. And, maybe extra worryingly, the NGOs appear to not have saved tempo. European policymakers ought to subsequently learn as we speak’s PVC critique from NGOs with robust reservations.

The golden age is over

The present method to PVC is in stark distinction to the golden age within the Nineteen Eighties and Nineties, when Greenpeace rightly pointed to challenges with PVC manufacturing, use and disposal. Through intelligent campaigning primarily based on science, authorities and regulators have been pressured to react and trade to adapt.

Today, the image is completely totally different. It appears the previous 20 years of sustainable improvement of PVC in Europe, initiated by Greenpeace, has failed to draw any consideration from as we speak’s NGOs. Unfortunately, European policymakers are subsequently offered with outdated data or are referred to as to develop insurance policies for points which can be already solved within the EU or are irrelevant in a European context.

Last 12 months, NGO Health Care Without Harm printed the paper “The polyvinyl chloride debate: Why PVC remains a problematic material”. Major European NGOs signed and gave enter to the paper, which was adopted up by a phase-out list for chemical compounds of concern in well being care that included PVC. Let’s have a look at a few of the decisive areas the place as we speak’s NGOs are incorrect or ignore essential developments within the EU:

through ECVM


In the NGO paper it’s surprisingly claimed that PVC is the least recyclable of all plastics. As PVC belongs to the thermoplastic household of polymers, the assertion is just nonsense. In distinction to thermosets, that are the opposite large household of polymers, PVC and different thermoplastics may be melted for reshaping. In reality, PVC may be recycled repeatedly[1] relying on the appliance with out dropping its technical properties.

In the EU greater than 6.5 million tons of PVC waste have been recycled since 2000

Paradoxically, the decision for a PVC phase-out due to the alleged non-recyclability of PVC will hamper the round financial system in well being care. As PVC is the most-used plastic for medical devices and will remain so for at least the next decade, it is smart to begin with this polymer.

PVC is the most-used plastic for medical gadgets and can stay so for not less than the subsequent decade


Alternatives to PVC

The NGO paper claims that PVC may be changed with safer supplies in just about all instances. This is just not true. In 2020, PVC Information Council Denmark commissioned Ramboll Denmark to map the use and recycling potential of versatile PVC purposes.

In the report “Circular Visions for Flexible PVC” it’s concluded that it is going to be very tough to supply related items with out the usage of versatile PVC. By “similar goods” the examine refers to a variety of versatile PVC merchandise like vinyl flooring, roofing membranes, tarpaulins for vehicles, trains and tents, promoting banners or cultural occasion streamers, flood safety tools, bouncy castles, sports activities tools and medical gadgets. Ramboll finds that “the hallmarks of flexible PVC render it suitable in these particular products for a number of reasons including wear resistance, weather resistance, service life, safety and other very specific characteristics”.

In addition, the Danish Environmental Protection Agency finds that “it cannot be concluded from available life-cycle analyses that another type of plastic is generally better than PVC”.


The Brussels impact

A big a part of the NGO paper is used to explain the dangerous impact of the phthalate plasticizer DEHP. Despite the truth that DEHP remains to be the most-used plasticizer in versatile PVC merchandise globally, it highlights the harmfulness of DEHP to an viewers that has been working laborious to guarantee that strict regulation of the usage of this substance has been carried out in Europe. Due to regulation and trade innovation, DEHP and different labeled phthalates have been virtually one hundred pc substituted in Europe.

It is well-known that the European Union is within the forefront of chemical regulation and shopper security. In her ebook “The Brussels Effect: How the European Union Rules the World”, Columbia Law School professor Anu Bradford argues that the remainder of the world will ultimately comply with within the footsteps of the EU. This is partly as a result of regulatory energy of the EU and the dimensions of the European market. It appears the NGOs are unaware of how large a job the Brussels impact performs and might play in world sustainable improvement.

To pace up world substitution of DEHP and different EU labeled phthalates, a partnership between VinylPlus and the Danish Environmental Protection Agency has been established. Because China is the world’s largest producer of PVC, the target of the partnership is to determine dialogue with the China with a view to elevate consciousness of the EU progress inside this subject.

Our message is evident: as we speak’s NGOs are usually not up-to-date with PVC issues and we subsequently warn European policymakers to not provoke insurance policies primarily based on their insights and proposals.


[1] Arthur Lyons: Materials for Architects and Builders, sixth version, Routledge, 2019, p. 386,

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