MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA — A group representing Australian's vinyl manufacturing sector says it has eliminated use of lead compound-based stabilizers in PVC products.
The 2012 PVC Product Stewardship Program Progress Report, released in May, shows companies involved in the PVC industry's Product Stewardship Program (PSP) have reduced lead stabilizer use by more than 99.8 percent since the program began in 2002.
Australia's PVC industry voluntarily introduced PSP as a framework for initiatives addressing PVC's lifecycle impacts. The program considers environmental and health impacts associated with PVC production, use and disposal.
About 80 percent of Australia's vinyl manufacturing sector, plus key raw material and additive suppliers and several PVC product importers, are PSP signatories.
Melbourne-based Vinyl Council of Australia (VCA), established in June 1998, administers the program. VCA members include resin, vinyl compound, vinyl and recycled vinyl product manufacturers, and suppliers of additives and services to PVC product manufacturers.
The PSP progress report focuses on six key industry commitments: production and storage; stabilizer and pigment use; plasticizer use; waste management; research; and public reporting.
VCA chief executive Sophi MacMillan said eliminating use of lead stabilizers was a major milestone in 2012.
“When the program [started] in 2002, signatory businesses were using over 1,000 tons of lead in stabilizer compounds. By the end of 2012, signatories had successfully switched from these stabilizers to alternatives that don't have the environmental and occupational health concerns lead compounds pose,” she said.
The final signatory still using lead stabilizers stopped in December after testing alternatives, changing production practices, and modifying extrusion equipment.
Signatories used 2.6 tons of lead stabilizer in 2012 compared to 9 tons in 2011. Any new signatories that use lead stabilizer must agree to a prompt phase-out timetable.
The report outlined two similar global initiatives. The South African Vinyl Association's PSP, created in early 2012, is committed to using lead-free stabilizers and pigments in all PVC products by January 2015.
VinylPlus, the European PVC industry's sustainable development program, is targeting lead replacement in European Union member countries by the end of 2015.