A group of environmental organizations hopes to step up the pressure on the vinyl industry with a new report critical of PVC bottle recycling and a campaign to urge consumer product firms not to make bottles from vinyl.
The report, written by the GrassRoots Recycling Network in Madison, Wis., quotes industry statistics from the American Plastics Council that claim for the last decade less than 2 percent of PVC bottles have been recycled. And it says that because PET recyclers consider PVC a contaminant in even small quantities, consumer product firms should switch to other plastics.
The GRRN report, released June 16, is the second of three from the coalition raising concerns about vinyl, and is part of a broader effort the groups will undertake to take their message to consumer product companies and local governments, said Toral Jha, project coordinator for GRRN.
Among the groups signing onto the report are the Center for Health, Environment & Justice in Falls Church, Va., and the Healthy Building Network in Washington, GRRN said.
``The industry has never made good on its claims that PVC can be effectively recycled and institutional limitations make it impossible for it to ever do so,'' the report said. ``The only comprehensive solution is to phase out PVC containers from the marketplace.''
A vinyl industry spokesman said PVC does not seem to be a big issue for recyclers any longer. Allen Blakey, spokesman for the Vinyl Institute in Arlington, Va., questioned the report because recyclers continue recycling bales of PET soda bottles that contain PVC.
``For years and years, recyclers have recycled millions of pounds of plastic bottles and PVC has been a part of the waste stream,'' he said. ``It's hard to believe this is a problem.''
Recyclers have complained about PVC, however. The Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers, the leading trade group for plastic bottle recyclers, declared PVC a contaminant in 1998 because it can make it tough to process recycled PET.
APR Executive Director Robin Cotchan said the group still considers PVC a contaminant, but she said ``it's not the mother of all issues at this point.''
She said recyclers see a lot of other contaminants, and she said PVC seems to be declining in the bottle market. But she said companies should not use PVC in bottles, or as labels on bottles.
The GRRN report said PVC is a small share of the bottle market, declining 50 percent in the last 10 years. The report said the amount of PVC bottles in the market make it difficult to sustain recycling of that material.
While vinyl bottles are just 2.3 percent of the market, the report contends that even that level could pose problems for PET recyclers, particularly if more communities adopt an ``all bottles'' recycling program pushed by the plastics industry.
The GRRN report said that most recyclers it surveyed do not accept more than 2 percent PVC in the materials they process.
The first report in the series came from Tufts University this winter, on the economics of PVC use. GRRN plans to do a third report on PVC disposal practices.