In order for a product or material to be truly described as sustainable it must be environmentally, economically and socially sustainable. PVC make a positive contribution to all three aspects of sustainability:
The UK PVC industry is worth approximately £5 billion providing employment for over 100,000 people.
Many studies have shown that PVC products have better cost:performance ratio than alternatives, for example:
Brighton and Hove Council estimated that avoiding PVC would add £30 million to long-term housing & works programmes & £1.2 million to the annual maintenance budget (2007 study)
Stockton Council found that it is possible to install twice as many PVC-U windows than timber for the same cost (2006 study)
BIS Shrapnel study (2008) found that using all PVC products instead of alternatives saves between 4.2% and 4.8% of total construction cost. Download BIS Shrapnel report (PDF 165k)
The PVC industry is highly sophisticated, with strong R&D capability and a safe working environment, which can respond rapidly to changing consumer needs.
There is great correspondance between the properties of PVC and public policy objectives helping to provide good quality housing, healthcare and efficient trnasportation of safe drinking water. PVC can be shown to limit and protect against climate change providing energy and fuel savings due to its lightweight and insulating properties.
The European PVC industry is engaged in a voluntary sustainable development programme that goes above and beyond legal requirements. The Vinyl 2010 agreement puts into practice the commitment of the European PVC industry to sustainable development, www.vinyl2010.org.
BRE Green Guide
The Building Research Establishment, BRE, Green Guide to Specification provides designers and specifiers with easy to use guidance on how to make the best environment choices when selecting construction materials and components. Building materials and components are assessed in terms of their environmental impact across their entire life cycle - from ‘cradle to grave', within comparable specifications.
The recycling of PVC is a relatively straightforward process. Particularly when used in such products as window and door frames, PVC may be continuously recycled in a closed loop with the recycled material being used again and again in new window frames and other building products.
Recovinyl is an initiative of the Vinyl 2010 agreement providing financial incentives to support the collection of PVC waste. Its aim is to ensure a steady supply of post-consumer PVC waste for recycling in Europe. In 2008, 42,730 tonnes of used PVC construction products were recycled, one of the leading figures in Europe. Over 198,000 tonnes was recycled in total by the 13 European countries participating in the scheme.