WASHINGTON — Branding a yearlong effort to find markets for recycled PVC a failure, the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers on April 14 labeled PVC a recycling contaminant and stepped up pressure on vinyl producers to boost markets.
But the Vinyl Institute urged patience and said it is working with flooring manufacturers to develop an application for recycled PVC.
``[APR members] are unhappy and we are sorry they feel that way,'' said Mark Sofman, manager of industry affairs with Morristown, N.J.-based VI. ``We're going to keep plugging away at it.''
APR officials, however, said the flooring application has been a year in the planning and is not advancing quickly enough to develop a market for post-consumer PVC packaging.
``We've been listening to the same thing for a year,'' said Robin Cotchan, manager of Washington-based APR. ``Realistically, [APR] is hoping that the Vinyl Institute will put this on the front burner. They haven't seen that.''
Gary Pratt, president of recycler P&R Environmental Industries Inc. in Youngsville, N.C., and an APR spokesman on PVC, said: ``It is too expensive for us to process PVC bottles only to throw them away. ... The whole plastics recycling industry would run more smoothly if PVC was not part of the post-consumer packaging waste stream.''
Pratt said his company has close to $1 million in equipment to remove PVC from the waste stream. APR said PVC contaminates both PET and high density polyethylene bottle recycling.
Very little PVC — between five and 10 parts per million — is enough to contaminate a load of PET, said Steve Babinchak, president of St. Jude Polymer Corp., a recycler in Frackville, Pa., and an APR member. PVC also is expensive to identify and remove from the PET stream.
``If they developed a market for it that you could get a couple pennies a pound for it, I don't think you'd hear our industry complaining,'' Babinchak said. ``That's the bottom line.''
A key market for recycled PVC dried up about 18 months ago, when virgin PVC maker Occidental Chemical Corp. stopped taking back PVC bottles, he said.
APR will consider removing PVC from its design-for-recyclability guidelines at a June meeting, according to Babinchak. VI has been ``completely irresponsible'' about the issue, he said.
Sofman said about 80,000 pounds of post-consumer PVC have been reprocessed since Jan. 1, but he could not say how much PVC the potential floor application might use or what price it could pay. VI and flooring manufacturers are working with East Coast Recycling Associates Inc. in Vineland, N.J., he said.
Although PVC is a small part of the packaging stream, package designers use PVC for many reasons, including price or performance properties, Sofman said.
PVC makes up only 3 percent of the plastic bottle market. About two-thirds of vinyl goes into durable goods. Roughly 500 million pounds of post-industrial vinyl are recycled each year, he said.
APR members include recyclers and the recycling divisions of resin suppliers. The group receives some funding from the American Plastics Council in Washington and the National Association for PET Container Resources in Charlotte, N.C., formerly the National Association for Plastic Container Recovery.