Under a spotlight

PVCs come under scrutiny as the European Commission launches a debate on its use

Published: Saturday 04 July 2015

The European Commission (EC) has launched a debate on the future of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a move which could initiate the process to restrict its production, use and disposal. A paper published by the EC on the environmental risks posed by PVC says harmful chemicals can be released into the environment when PVC waste is incinerated or buried and is it also difficult to recycle.

In Europe, more than half of PVC is used in the construction industry. Packaging, vehicle manufacture and electrical and other household appliances also have important uses of the chemical. "PVC waste is likely to increase by 80 per cent by 2020. This is a problem we must address now," said environment commissioner Margot Wallstrom. The European Union has already banned certain PVC toys because of fears that chemicals used to soften the plastic could pose a threat to children's health when sucked. The six-month consultation process will lead to the commission proposing concrete measures on PVC early next year.

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