FAVOURITES – 15 January 2010 – The Green Building Council of Australia is seeking public comment on its revised PVC credit, which paves the way for some PVC products used in flooring, pipes and conduit to contribute to a green star rating.

GBCA chief executive, Romilly Madew, said the new credit revisions follow an 18 month investigation period and will encourage the development and use of best practice PVC material in Australia.

“Rewarding best practice PVC products within the Green Star rating system will stimulate demand for best
practice, responsibly-produced PVC products in Australia.”

The guidelines for PVC, or or Polyvinyl Chloride, cover the key areas of:

  • Chlorine (production of materials for PVC);
  • Vinyl Chloride Monomer (VCM) (production of materials for PVC);
  • Waste, Water, Air and Product Emission thresholds for Ethylene Dichloride (EDC), VCM, and PVC Resin (manufacture of PVC);
  • Stabilisers and Plasticisers (manufacture of PVC); and
  • End of Life Product Stewardship (disposal and recycling of PVC).

Green Star executive director, Robin Mellon said the credit for the past 5-6 years encouraged all PVC to be minimised but that the reality was that developers and builders still need to use flooring pipes and conduits made from PVC.

He said that PVC products from China still tended to create mercury and chlorine by-products but that the credit was available to manufacturers from any country if they wished to comply with the new guidelines.

“We’re not putting up a defacto  trade barrier. The guidelines were available for any country manufacturer to meet,” he said.

Mr Mellon said an executive summary of the guidelines were available from the GBCA website and that feedback would be sought from green groups such as Greenpeace.

“We really do need to receive feeback,” he said.

The move was a response to the continued use of PVC in development, Mr Mellon said.

“Because people still need to use it – people still need pipes and need conduits – [the credit] has not had the uptake we wanted and it hasn’t been a driver for change.

“Saying all PVC is bad is not a driver for change. It’s not an incentive for change.

“So now in the manufacture of the product they [the manufacturers] can say, yes these process have minimised any health or environmental impacts during the use of the product and at the end of its life.”

In some cases companies such as Interface have a buy-back policy so the material can go back into the “product loop.”

“The new credit provides an incentive for a manufacturer to develop new processes in a way that cuts out concerns.”

Ms Madew said there were already signs that the introduction of GBCA’s Best Practice Guidelines for PVC
would push the PVC industry towards better production techniques.

She said the revision of the PVC credit is part of a wider review of four of the GBCA’s Green Star Materials category “credits” – Steel, Timber, PVC and Concrete.  The results of the Timber credit were released in December 2009 and results from the Steel and Concrete reviews will be released in 2010.

The new PVC, credit will be open for public comment for five weeks.

The Fifth Estate – sustainable property news

tperinotto@thefifthestate.com.au