Top retail chains in the United Kingdom are threatening to phase out their use of PVC products and packaging unless the PVC industry improves its environmental standards.
Leading members of the PVC Retail Working Group want to work with industry to set target levels for toxic emissions in PVC production, and deadlines for their achievement. The group was formed at Greenpeace's urging last year to consider the environmental impact of PVC.
The retailers include Britain's top supermarket chain, Tesco; the Co-operative Wholesale Society supermarket chain; Body Shop personal-care product company; and Swedish furniture retailer Ikea.
The action was welcomed by Greenpeace, while the British Plastics Federation argued that European PVC producers already comply with stringent emission levels set down in its charter for vinyl chloride monomer and PVC production in 1995.
BPF has asked to meet with the retailers to discuss the basis of a recent report commissioned by the Retail Working Group. The report, prepared by the National Centre for Business and Ecology, based at Manchester University in Manchester, England, found that the process of PVC production can be modified to reduce environmental risks.
The retailers agreed that PVC remains a useful and important product, and in some cases has no substitute, but they want to see improved environmental standards in its production.
The retail group warned that its members will phase out all PVC use in products, packaging and building materials if targets are not met.
They plan to meet with representatives of the PVC industry to agree on the emissions targets.