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Plastic still fantastic?

The plastics industry is fighting back against moves by local authorities to substitute PVC-U building materials with other substrates.
The policy change has been based on a number of factors, including the recyclability of PVC-U and its environmental impact.

The British Plastics Federation, with the support of British manufacturer Marshall-Tufflex, have stepped in to discuss the situation with councils. And Marshall-Tufflex have produced a fact sheet detailing the sustainability and recyclability properties of PVC-U in order to assuage the concerns of the councils involved.

Marshall-Tufflex’s technical standards and materials manager Chris Curtis said, “The councils’ drive to become more environmentally-aware is to be applauded. However, the decision to encourage the use of alternative materials was based on out-of-date and technically incorrect information.

“These authorities are also out-of-step with the latest worldwide research – the LEED Green Building Rating System in America cautions that avoiding the use of PVC could result in higher health and ecological impact.”

Much has already been done in recent years to improve the eco credentials of PVC-U. Cadmium, for example, has been removed from the product and manufacturers such as Marshall-Tufflex only use lead-free formulations for moulded products.

But, the recycling process is not without its problems because PVC-U has a long life span – up to 30 or 40 years. This means that feedstock for recycling has been in short supply.

However, the UK currently has 30 Recovinyl certified recyclers, the re-chip from which is then fed back into the PVC supply chain. Marshall Tufflex also recycles off-cuts etc during the production process, recovering tons of material every year.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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