Sustainable healthcare

For us, sustainable healthcare means a lot. PVC’s contribution to sustainable healthcare encompasses the environmental, social and economic dimensions of sustainability. The material is made from 57% salt, an abundant resource, and the rest of oil or natural gas. It is easily recyclable and take back schemes for PVC medical devices are in place in several countries: Throughout Australia and New Zealand, the UK, South Africa and Guatemala more than 250 hospitals collect PVC medical devices from non-infectious patients for recycling into useful products. The social pillar of sustainability is fulfilled as well: As it is a very affordable material, PVC has helped enable access to quality healthcare for the broader population. Several studies show that a switch to alternative materials would be very costly, thereby putting further stress on already increasing healthcare costs.

VinylPlus® – a voluntary commitment to sustainable development

The European PVC industry is committed to sustainable development. This commitment is put into practice by VinylPlus, the 10-year Voluntary Commitment to sustainable development in Europe. The VinylPlus programme was developed through open dialogue with stakeholders, including industry, NGOs, regulators, civil society representatives and PVC users. Five key challenges for sustainable development have been identified on the basis of The Natural Step System Conditions for a Sustainable Society. The regional scope of the programme is the EU-27 plus UK, Norway and Switzerland.

The founding members of VinylPlus are The European Council of Vinyl Manufacturers (ECVM), European Stabiliser Producers Association (ESPA), European Plastics Converters (EuPC) and European Plasticisers.

Watch the short animation video to learn more about the VinylPlus programme and its achievements.

Measurable targets and third-party auditing

Through the VinylPlus® initiative, the European PVC industry is creating a long-term sustainability framework for the entire PVC value chain. It aims to:
The progress is monitored by an independent Monitoring Committee and documented by yearly Progress Reports that are independently audited and verified by third parties. The praise for the VinylPlus programme comes from a wide range of stakeholders, e.g. the European Commission which considers VinylPlus a frontrunner for circular economy. VinylPlus is registered as a SMART partnership on the UN Partnerships for SDGs platform and listed as a Good Practice on the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform. Together with fiver other European plastics organisations, VinylPlus has recently launched Circularity Platforms aiming to reach 50% plastics waste recycling by 2040.

"VinylPlus can be considered a frontrunner for the circular economy"

Gwenole Cozigou, Director, DG Growth, European Commission

Medical device recycling ongoing around the globe

Medical grade PVC is a high-class material, which can recycled again and again into useful products. This, together with the fact that many medical devices such as oxygen masks and tubing are used for a few seconds on pre-screened patients, have led to the establishment of several recycling systems around the world. By recycling these high quality products, hospitals can contribute to the circular economy and help achieve sustainability targets.
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Australia and New Zealand

In Australia and New Zealand more than 200 hospitals now collect medical devices such as IV bags, oxygen masks and tubing for recycling.
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The UK

In the UK the RecoMed take back scheme for PVC medical devices has been set up, which is supported by the European PVC industry's sustainable development programme VinylPlus®.
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South Africa

In South Africa, PVC IV bags are recycled into 100% recyclable school shoes for disadvantaged children.
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In September 2020 the Vinyl Institute of Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada launched the PVC 123 pilot programme for PVC oxygen delivery devices, PVC oxygen tubing, PVC fluid bags/containers.
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About 25 hospitals in Guatamala collect used PVC medical devices for recycling. The PVC is recycled into shoes that are distributed to school children in Guatemala City. The shoes are handmade by indigenous Kekchis women, providing jobs and income to this minority group.
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In Colombia, PVC used in dialysis clinics and home dialysis patients are collected. Through collaboration with local organisations, the waste is recycled into chairs, water hoses and other applications.
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In Thailand, PVC dialysis bags are being collected and recycled. It started with one hospital in 2015 and has now expanded to cover several hospitals. Work is ongoing to make the programme national.