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Tasmanian company transforms PVC waste

By: Kate Tilley

July 18, 2013

GEORGE TOWN, TASMANIA – An Australian manufacturer’s unplastized PVC recycling program has seen about 105 tons of window profile waste recycled since 2012 and converted into products that include septic tanks for developing nations.

Poly Marketing Pty. Ltd., trading as Envorinex, is based in George Town, on Australia’s island state of Tasmania. It manufactures injection molded and extruded products, mainly from PVC and polypropylene. Its recyclable product range includes noise abatement fencing; matting; beehive foundations; septic tanks; raised garden beds; and guardrail delineators.

Envorinex sells about 5 percent of its product in Tasmania, 55 percent is freighted to mainland Australia, and 40 percent exported to North America, Japan, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the South Pacific region, and Europe.

Envorinex managing director Jenny Brown said the company identified in 2010 that more than 700 tons of PVC window frame profile off-cuts goes to landfill in Australia annually.

Most window profiles used in Australia are manufactured in Europe, mainly Turkey, shipped to Australia and fabricated domestically, creating the off-cuts that are usually destined for landfill.

In response, Envorinex established a recycling program to collect and reuse the PVC waste in its products. Brown said the program took off in early 2012 after extensive research and testing in 2010 and 2011.

The concept of reusing PVC waste was initially tested at Envorinex’s Tasmanian factory and, once it was found viable, the company started collecting PVC waste on Australia’s mainland. Oakleigh Centre Industries, the employment division of Oakleigh Centre for Intellectually Disabled Citizens Inc., in Oakleigh, Victoria, is its Melbourne collection center. Fabricators and builders drop off-cuts there for Envorinex to grind and ship to Tasmania.

Brown said Envorinex is working with the New South Wales state government-funded Environment Protection Authority to establish another collection center in Sydney.

She said all PVC off-cuts are tested before recycling. To ensure Envorinex’s products remain fully recyclable, it cannot use waste containing heavy metals, like lead. It uses only about 30 percent of the waste collected.

Approved off-cuts are peeled, color sorted and granulated at the George Town factory or the Melbourne collection center.

Septic tank chambers manufactured with PVC waste are exported to developing countries, like Papua New Guinea and Fiji. “They assist in countries where sanitization is lacking,” Brown said.

She said Envorinex can potentially recycle other plastic products, not just window profiles. But many contain agents that cannot be recycled.

This year, Envorinex joined the PVC Recovery in Hospitals program, through which commonly used PVC medical products, specifically tubing, IV fluid bags and oxygen masks, are recycled. The program was officially launched by Australia’s national PVC industry body, the Melbourne-based Vinyl Council of Australia, in March.

Brown said Envorinex is collecting PVC waste from four Tasmanian hospitals to create anti-fatigue matting for workers who must stand for long periods on hard surfaces. She estimates the company has collected about two tons so far.

Brown said being based on an island means freight is the company’s “major expense.” Envorinex must ship products to Melbourne before they are exported; there is no international shipping direct from Tasmania.

The Australian Government established the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme, which subsidizes the cost of transporting goods by sea between Tasmania and the Australian mainland, but Envorinex gets no subsidies for shipping beyond Australian shores.