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Businesses see sense in improving energy efficiency and reducing carbon footprint
Despite uncertainty over Australia’s energy and carbon policy directions, individual businesses continue to take steps to improve energy efficiency and reduce the carbon footprint of their products.
In 2014, the number of companies in the Australian vinyl industry reporting actions to improve energy efficiencies on site, monitoring carbon emission or setting targets to reduce energy consumption jumped by 50 percent.
According to the industry’s latest annual progress report on companies meeting product stewardship commitments across the PVC value chain, more than two thirds of Signatory companies are now complying with the industry’s ‘Energy Efficiency & Greenhouse Gas Charter’. The Charter, introduced into the industry’s long-running PVC Stewardship Program three years ago - formally commits businesses to improve energy efficiency at the warehouse, distribution and manufacturing level, and to reduce the carbon footprint of their operations, and ultimately, their products.
“To remain globally competitive, such action makes business sense,” Chief Executive of the Vinyl Council of Australia, Ms Sophi MacMillan explained.
“In the current absence of a long term commitment to transition Australia’s energy matrix and provide investment certainty so as to power Australian industry to a globally competitive future, the majority of our members are nevertheless continuing to move forward as best they can.”
The types of projects undertaken by the Council’s members vary widely, from commercial lighting and air conditioning improvements to capital equipment investments and using recycled PVC in their products. This variety of approach reflects the very different businesses involved in the PVC Stewardship Program, in size, available resources, or strategy.
“Climate change poses not just potential risks to our economy as we have known it, but also opportunities,” explained Ms MacMillan.
“Our industry sees its products as well placed to be part of the solution for a low carbon future as they have relatively low embodied energy, are lightweight, can contain recycled material and can contribute to significantly improved energy efficiency of our homes and offices.“
The PVC Product Stewardship Program is a voluntary initiative, launched by the Vinyl Council of Australian in 2002. It aims to improve the sustainability of vinyl, or PVC, products by delivering change across the life cycle of PVC. Signatories include local manufacturers and importers of a wide range of products – pipes, conduit, cable, flooring, windows, building profiles, flexible packaging, fabrics and medical products – as well as suppliers of raw materials and intermediates.
The Program is structured around five specific aspects of the life cycle of PVC products: best practice manufacturing, safe and sustainable use of additives, energy and greenhouse gas management, resource efficiency, and transparency and engagement. To help communicate information and progress related to these aspects, a new identity for the Program has been designed.
“We actively want our Program to be dynamic and evolving, and the new identity underscores this approach”, said Ms MacMillan. “It is also the embodiment of our whole-of-life approach to product stewardship. Life Cycle Thinking is an iterative and constantly evolving process, and we want to show that it is at the heart of our stewardship program”.
- Thirteen Signatories achieved full compliance with the Program in 2014, up from eight in 2013.
- 82 percent of Signatories are compliant with at least 80 percent of relevant commitments in the Program.
- Consolidation and strengthening of the PVC Recovery in Hospitals program - a PVC medical waste recycling program. By year end, 35 hospitals were involved in the Program, with a further 39 having expressed interest. A total of 96 tonnes of PVC products has been recovered for recycling – equivalent to 2.35 million IV bags.
Progress Highlights in 2014