Great start to PVC 2014

2 Apr 2014

Day one of PVC 2014 lived up to the expectations set out in the impressive programme, with talks from top industry figures, including Brigitte Dero from VinylPlus, Henry Warren from IHS UK and Roger Mottram from INEOS Chlorvinyls UK.

Jonathon Porritt CBE and Founder and Director of Forum for the Future delivered his keynote, Sustainable Futures: Re-Making the World, and it did not disappoint. He brought the PVC 2014 audience down to earth with a bump and gave an honest account of where we are, where we need to aim and how we can attempt to get there. He said, 'We have to know precisely what we mean by sustainability in order to understand how to get there'. Viki Taylor from IOM3 caught up with Jonathon and he highlighted his main concerns and points from his talk. If you missed the keynote, or just want to recap, this is for you.


By and large, most of the coverage of sustainability issues these days is pretty gloomy. The massive benefits of living more sustainably – economically, socially and environmentally – remain largely invisible to the vast majority of people. This in turn makes it practically impossible for politicians to excite voters about a green economy and a more sustainable world. The World We Made, my new book, is all about changing people’s perceptions of sustainability, by showing them what an amazing, fair, aspirational and genuinely sustainable life we could all be living by 2050 – if we get our act together today.

And that’s the problem: we’re simply not getting our act together today. We’re still firmly stuck in a model of economic progress based on economic growth at all costs, with its systematic undervaluing of the natural world and its resources, and systematic underpricing of the cost to society. With both global population and the global economy still growing, the sustainability challenges (on climate, biodiversity, soil erosion, water shortages, pollution and so on) continue to get more and more serious.

Like it or not, climate change remains the biggest threat to human wellbeing, and is already negatively affecting the lives of millions of people. The vast majority of scientists today believe we have only a limited window of time to dramatically scale up our current (very inadequate) decarbonisation strategies if we are to avoid runaway climate change. A rapidly-changing climate also impacts on so many other environmental issues, and simultaneously exacerbates health, poverty and social justice concerns in some of the poorest countries of the world.

A growing number of experts believe that it’s already too late – but happily an even larger number believe that we’ve still got time! And I’m with them. One of the most exciting things for me, doing the research for The World We Made, was to see just how much is now coming through the innovation pipeline on renewables (especially solar), energy efficiency, waste, water, smart materials, water purification, biotech and so on. We just have to get those brilliant new technologies through the pipeline and deployed at scale across the economy.

As one of a small team of people involved in the very first initiative modelling what a genuinely sustainable PVC industry would look like – initiated by The Natural Step in the UK back in the late 1990s – I’ve taken a close interest in PVC and sustainability issues since then. The fact that the whole European industry is now committed to an evolved version of that original sustainability vision is hugely encouraging, but the pressures faced by the industry don’t get any easier to handle!


Don't miss the full report of PVC 2014 in the next issue of Materials World.


Further information:

PVC 2014 

The World We Made (proceeds from the book go to Forum for the Future)