PVC is an established and proven plastic that has been used in a very wide variety of different applications, above all in the construction sector, for many years. The company Consultic GmbH has now examined the PVC industry in Germany in precise detail in a special study conducted on behalf of AGPU, PlasticsEurope and BKV. As a result of this study, the industry has now been provided with an up-to-date insight into the flow of its material.
The most important results of the study „An Analysis of the PVC Production, Processing, Waste and Recycling Flows in Germany in 2013“ showed that last year, around 1.8 million tons of PVC polymer was manufactured in Germany. The study also revealed that around 1.6 million tons of PVC polymer was processed in Germany in 2013. The amount of PVC waste recorded last year reached a total of 650,000 tons, 99 percent of which was recycled. 37 percent of this overall waste stream was processed using mechanical recycling, nearly one percent involved feedstock recycling and 61 percent was treated in incinerators with energy recovery. The recycling rate of PVC material has increased by five percent since 2007. This is evidence that as an integral component of the plastics family, PVC plays a significant role in ensuring that the material can continue to be used as a valuable resource even at the end of the life cycle of individual products.
The highest recycling rates for PVC waste can be found in the construction sector, where products such as used windows, pipes, flooring and roofing membranes are sorted, collected, recycled and processed to form new products, and in electrical and electronic applications, above all when it comes to cable recycling.
The study also identified the most important application sectors of PVC revealing that nearly three quarters of the processed virgin PVC polymer was used to manufacture products for the construction sector, especially window and door profiles, pipes, flooring, roofing and waterproofing membranes. The construction sector is also the most important market segment for PVC recyclates, 62 percent of which is processed to form building products. Recycled PVC is also frequently used in the fields of gardening and agriculture (approximately 15 percent), for example for stall and greenhouse mats or lawn grid elements. The fact that PVC products are considered to be very durable means that on the whole, PVC is mainly used for long-lasting applications with a lifespan of 40 years or more.