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PVC4Cables hosted yesterday in Berlin its second biennial conference with the theme In PVC Cables we Trust! Innovation and Sustainability for Smart Electrical Systems. Over 90 representatives of the European PVC cable industry debated the future of the sector, focusing in particular on research and development (R&D), sustainable development and market trends.

“At the global level, PVC remains the most used material,” confirmed Astrid Aupetit, Senior Research Analyst of AMI Consulting, “with 53% of the processed compounds’ volumes, and an estimated growth of 1-1.5% in the coming years. In Europe, PVC maintains its leadership among the materials used in the low-voltage cable industry.”

PVC is an excellent choice thanks to the versatility of its formulations; the easy processing; its excellent insulation properties; its performance in terms of resistance to fire and atmospheric agents, and its cost-efficiency.

“In PVC cables,” explained Professor Alessandro Marangoni of Althesys, “the higher the PVC content in the cable, the lower the costs for the cable owners as calculated by the TCO methodology.” Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is the assessment methodology designed to calculate the lifetime costs of acquiring, operating and maintaining a product. “Furthermore, on the basis of the PVC recycling Cost-Benefit Analysis (copper recovery not included), the higher the quantity of PVC in the cable, the higher the net benefits of recycling in comparison to landfill and incineration.”

Although PVC is considered a mature material by many, the research and innovations in formulations developed in recent years has led to very promising results.

Cable formulations based on P-PVC (plasticised PVC) can be improved,” said Professor Enrico Boccaleri, Università del Piemonte Orientale, “in particular concerning thermal stability and HCl release reduction, by the use of nanomaterials.”

“In Italy, we have developed compounds for PVC cables with low smoke acidity and pretty good fire performance,” stated Gianluca Sarti, representative of the Compounds for Cables Group of PVC Forum Italia. “Our research has shown that we can produce PVC compounds with a smoke acidity 25 time lower in comparison to standard compounds currently used. Tests are currently ongoing to improve performance even further.”

Providing an update on flame retardancy with low smoke and low acidity, Professor Camillo Cardelli, Researcher at i-Pool, underlined thatPVC can obtain the highest fire-reaction results compared with any thermoplastic material if properly formulated with suitable additives and flame-retardant fillers.”

Based on these premises, Erica Lo Buglio, PVC4Cables and Marco Piana, Director of PVC Forum Italia, presented the new PVC4Cables brochure on how to choose PVC cables under the CPR, demonstrating the ability of PVC cables to meet the individual specifications of intended-use/fire-risk with competitive costs.

Roland Dewitt of ACCIPIS and Chris Howick, Product Regulation Manager of INOVYN updated participants respectively on standardisation relevant for the cable industry and the current regulatory status in Europe for the Medium-Chain Chlorinated Paraffins under REACH and RoHS.

In terms of sustainability, presenting his new LCA study on energy consumption and CO2 emissions associated with the production, use and final disposal of PVC cables, Josè M. Baldasano, Professor at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, stated thatthe electrical cable that presents the best results, according to the environmental indicators considered, is PVC with 25% recycled material in its composition.”

Recycling is, of course, one of PVC’s strong points. Speaking on challenges and opportunities in making PVC cables circular, Ingrid Verschueren, General Manager of Recovinyl®, highlighted “the excellent performance achieved in 2018 in PVC cables recycling, with 151,506 tonnes recycled and a 20.3% increase over 2017.” Since 2000, more than 1.1 million tonnes of PVC cables have been recycled in the framework of the Vinyl 2010 and VinylPlus® programmes, saving nearly 2.3 million of CO2 emissions.

PVC cables recyclability was also underlined by Piero De Fazio, Senior Researcher of ENEA (the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development), while illustrating the PVC Upcycling Project: from de-manufacturing, with recovery and recycling of PVC electrical cables from energy plants, to re-manufacturing of products with low environmental impact.

Some practical examples on analytical services and certifications were presented by Gerald Aengenheyster, Managing Director of SKZ-Testing GmbH. Stefan Eingärtner, Technical Director of VinylPlus®, illustrated the VinylPlus® Product Label, the sustainability certification scheme for PVC products developed by VinylPlus® with BRE (Building Research Establishment) and The Natural Step.

Closing the conference, Zdenek Hruska, PVC4Cables Project Manager, emphasised that the concrete results achieved in the first two years of intense work by the PVC4Cables Platform were possible “thanks to the collaboration among PVC resin manufacturers, stabilisers’ and plasticisers’ producers, converters, industry experts, universities and research bodies, that has given a new impulse to the environmentally responsible innovation in the PVC cables sector.”

A new PVC4Cables brochure supports professionals and specifiers with the necessary information to make the right choice in different building contexts, demonstrating the ability of PVC cables to meet the individual specifications of intended-use/fire-risk at competitive costs.

In building and construction, choosing the right cable means combining technical performance, fire safety, environmental performance, as well as economic aspects in the most efficient way.

The design of a building has a key function in the event of fire. Fire safety and prevention measures allowing the safe evacuation of people must be supported by an adequate knowledge of the performance of the building materials. Fire safety planning is a complex issue that takes a number of parameters into account.

With this document – says Zdenek Hruska, Project Manager of PVC4Cables – our Platform aims to provide B&C professionals and installers with the useful information to choose the right PVC cables in terms of cost-efficiency and fire performance, in full compliance with the CPR (Construction Products Regulation) and related standards”.

Wires and cables are today the largest application sector for flexible PVC in Europe, absorbing 7% of PVC resins production. PVC wires and cables account for around 46% of the European cables market, thanks to their advantages in terms of best cost/performance, sustainability and recyclability, which translate into technical, functional and safety benefits for end-users and consumers.

In the B&C sector, from private housing to public and crowded environments, PVC cables have been for decades, and still are, amongst the best choices in terms of fire safety, as they do not facilitate the generation and spread of fire.

In Europe, the Construction Products Regulation sets the harmonised technical conditions for free circulation of products within the European Union and identifies a number of essential requirements to respect, including reaction-to-fire performance of products in the event of an outbreak of fire.

The European standard EN 13501-6 classifies electric cables in 7 reaction-to-fire classes from A to F, identified by the subscript ‘ca’ (cable), according to their heat release and flame spread performance. This indication is completed with additional information defining the performance in relation to smoke production (s), flaming droplets and/or particles (d) and acidity (a).

Each Member State refers to this classification scheme in its own legislative instruments addressing fire safety in buildings and constructions. Consequently, the use of a given cable category can change depending on the final application for which each Member State independently prescribes class requirements in terms of primary class (A to F) and additional classification (s, d and a).

“The PVC value chain is constantly engaged in the research and development of new formulations, and seeks to continue providing the market with high-quality, high-performance products. Thanks to recent formulation development, already today it is possible to produce PVC cables compliant with the Euroclass B-s1-d0 – states Carlo Ciotti, spokesperson of PVC4Cables. New formulations for PVC cables are currently under development to further improve their performance in fires. In this respect, nanotechnologies[1], for example, represent an interesting perspective for the development and use of efficient functional additives in polymers”.

The PVC cables industry is committed to ensure maximum safety and protection of the environment and of the health of users and consumers, and recyclability represents a fundamental environmental requisite. PVC cables are recyclable and successfully recycled. In 2018, more than 151,000 tonnes of PVC cable waste were recycled within the VinylPlus® framework, representing 20% of the total recycled PVC volumes, and saving more than 300,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions [2].

PVC advantages in case of fire

  • PVC is difficult to ignite and does not sustain combustion.
  • PVC is self-extinguishing.
  • PVC does not contribute to flame propagation.
  • PVC does not generate sparks or flaming droplets.
  • PVC irradiates only a minimum amount of heat.
  • PVC would generate very little smoke in a real fire situation.
  • PVC expands by up to 800% and carbonises in the external layer (like a meringue) when it is burned, thus making a significant contribution to slowing down fire propagation.
  • The smoke released from PVC combustion is not more toxic than the one released from any other carbon-based material, including natural materials such as wood.
  • Hydrogen Chloride contained in the smoke is irritating and provides an immediate signal of the development of the fire, acting as an escape alarm.

Download the PVC4Cables Fire Safety brochure, currently available in English, German, Spanish and Italian.

 

[1] https://www.pvc4cables.org/en/media-en/news/item/107-nanotech

[2] https://vinylplus.eu/documents/51/59/VinylPlus-Progress-Report-2019

On 25 September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the resolution Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a transformative plan of action to address urgent global challenges over the following 15 years.

Based on 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 associated targets, the agenda seeks not only to eradicate extreme poverty, but also to integrate and balance the three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental. Together, the SDGs form a comprehensive global vision to ensure sustainable social and economic progress worldwide.

Without the indirect contribution of wires and cables, it is virtually impossible to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals set for 2030. Without wires and cables, our society, as we know it, would not exist. Electricity, electronics, transports, IT, home automation depend on cables, especially in our interconnected and digitalised society.

Improving its products’ performance, thanks in particular to the initiatives undertaken in the framework of the VinylPlus® sustainability programme, the PVC cable industry can demonstrate a direct contribution to the achievement of the SDGs. This through new, safer and performing formulations, by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and consumption of energy and raw materials, and by an efficient end-of-life management (recycling) of cables.

1. Production Phase: energy efficiency and reduced GHG emissions

SDG 7 – Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
Target 7.3: By 2030, double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency.

SDG 13 – Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Target 13.1: Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries.

PVC is intrinsically a ‘low carbon’ plastic (only 38% of its molecular weight is carbon, the rest is chlorine and hydrogen), and it consumes less primary energy in the manufacturing phase than other commonly used plastics. LCA studies show excellent performance of PVC cables in terms of energy consumption and associated CO2 emissions compared to alternative materials.

In addition, through the VinylPlus® Voluntary Commitment, the European PVC industry is further improving its energy efficiency, therefore reducing its GHG emissions, both in the production phase and through recycling.

SDG 12 – Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Target 12.5: By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse.

PVC cables are recyclable and successfully recycled. Thanks to the collection and recycling schemes set up in the framework of the European PVC industry’s Voluntary Commitments, PVC cables recycling reached 151,506 tonnes in 2018 from nearly zero in 2000.

Using recycled PVC helps meet resource-efficiency targets and allows the preservation of natural resources. It has been calculated that CO2 savings of up to 92% are achieved when PVC is recycled: recycled PVC’s primary energy demand is typically between 45% to 90% lower than virgin PVC production (depending on type of PVC and the recycling process). Furthermore, according to a conservative estimation, for each kg of PVC recycled, 2 kg of CO2 are saved. On this basis, CO2 savings from PVC recycling in Europe in the framework of VinylPlus® is now at around 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 saved per year, of which 300,000 tonnes from cable recycling.

2. R-PVC contribution to the SDGs

SDG 6 – Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
Target 6.3: By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally.

SDG 7 – Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
Target 7.3: By 2030, double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency.

SDG 13 – Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Target 13.1: Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries.

Using recycled PVC from cables reduce the Primary Energy Demand (PED) by 47% if compared to virgin PVC compound produced by conventional route; the Global Warming Potential (GWP 100a) by 40% and the Water Consumption by 76%.

LCA data refer to R-PVC produced through a physical, solvent-based recycling technology (https://www.pvc4cables.org/en/sustainability/waste/vinyloop)

SDG 12 – Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Target 12.4: By 2020, achieve the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle, in accordance with agreed international frameworks, and significantly reduce their release to air, water and soil in order to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment.

The PVC value chain is engaged in the research and development of new formulations to ensure maximum safety and protection of the environment and of the health of users and consumers.

VinylPlus® commitment on the sustainable use of additives, for example, resulted in the replacement of lead-based stabilisers in PVC applications in the EU-28 by the end of 2015, and in the development of a new methodology named ASF (Additives Sustainability Footprint) to evaluate the use of additives in PVC products from the perspective of sustainable development.

New formulations for PVC cables are currently under development, including through the use of nanotechnologies, to further improve their performance in fires.

 

Information leaflet on PVC4Cables

PVC4Cables.pdf

Brighton, 27 April 2017 – PVC4Cables has been launched today in Brighton, UK, at the PVC 2017 Conference.

PVC4Cables is the new ECVM's platform dedicated to the PVC cables value chain. It brings together the producers of PVC resins, stabilisers and plasticisers, and it is open for participation by PVC compounders and PVC cables producers.

PVC4Cables intends to act as a driver for environmentally responsible innovations in the PVC cables sector and as a focal point for dialogue and communications with all stakeholders: compounds and cable producers, regulators, specifiers, installers, electricians, media and the general public.

Objective of the initiative is to proactively engage in the promotion of PVC cables, highlighting their contribution to sustainable development, as well as their technical and functional benefits for final users and consumers.

Accounting for 46% of the cables market in Europe, PVC is the most used polymer for electric and telecommunication cables, thanks to its advantages in terms of best cost/performance ratio, high sustainability and recyclability. Wires and cables represent today the largest application sector for flexible PVC in Europe, absorbing around 7% of the PVC resins manufactured.

Main applications include: classic electric cables for power transmission at low and medium voltage for homes and offices; telephone cables; cables for TV/computer/hi-fi; cables for automotive; battery cables and robotics; data transmission cables, LAN and IT.

PVC cables are one of the key application markets in Europe and one of the main sources of recycled PVC – said Zdenek Hruska, ECVM Public Affairs Senior Manager and PVC4Cables Project Manager. With this initiative we aim to provide a valuable point of reference for the entire PVC cables value chain and its stakeholders. We are confident that PVC4cables will enhance cooperation among PVC resins, additives, compounds and cables producers to promote the technical and functional benefits of PVC cables, and will stimulate research and innovation to further improve products’ quality and sustainability”.

The PVC cables value chain is engaged in the research and development of new formulations to ensure maximum safety and protection of the environment and the health of users and consumers. Thanks to the European PVC industry’s sustainability programmes, the PVC cables value chain is well positioned to steadily moving towards a true model of circular economy” – added Carlo Ciotti, President of the Italian PVC Forum and PVC4Cables Spokesperson.

Over the past decades, the PVC value chain has been working hard, not only to improve quality and performance of final products, but also their sustainability. The Voluntary Commitments of the European PVC industry, VinylPlus and its predecessor Vinyl 2010, for example, contributed to the development of a new generation of PVC formulations, free of substances of high concern; and to the development of collection and recycling schemes. In 2016, in excess of 127,000 tonnes of PVC were recycled from cables within the VinylPlus framework. Furthermore, new recycling technologies, such as VinyLoop®, have been developed to obtain recycled material suitable for high-performance applications.

The 1st PVC4Cables Conference ‘Sustainability, innovation, market: the new horizons of the PVC cables industry’ will take place in Lyon, France, on 26 October 2017, to present and debate the state of the art on PVC cables (technical and environmental performance, regulatory framework, recycling technologies) and their beneficial properties.

The PVC industry is making real progress towards sustainability and a positive contribution to the circular economy through a united industry approach, delegates heard at the 5th VinylPlus Sustainability Forum 2017 in Berlin, Germany.

Organised by VinylPlus, the European PVC industry sustainability programme, this year’s forum held on May 10th and 11th took the theme of ‘Towards Circular Economy’ and explored the many growing opportunities for the PVC sector to contribute to this key objective of EU policy.

Against a backdrop of important decisions being taken on the European Commission’s Circular Economy Package, presentations and panel discussions from high-level speakers focussed on how the vinyl industry is tackling key sustainability issues, such as legacy additives in recycled PVC, and contributing to a stronger circular flow of resources.

The forum attracted more than 170 stakeholders from 30 countries representing academia, government bodies, the UN, the European Commission, specifiers, designers, architects and all sectors of the PVC industry.

Welcoming delegates, VinylPlus Chairman Josef Ertl said: “The debate about how Europe can make the transition to a circular economy is placed high on the political agenda. I’m sure, most people will agree, that a sustainable society without a circular economy is difficult to imagine. And the unique characteristics of plastics allow them to make a strong contribution to a more environmentally sustainable and resource efficient Europe. PVC is clearly contributing to this; and certainly VinylPlus with its unique co-operation model, bringing together the whole PVC value chain, is the right platform for sustainability and circularity in the PVC industry.”

Acknowledging that a move from a predominantly linear to a largely circular economic system would ‘dramatically change’ how companies and value chains co-operate and the way we produce and consume goods, Josef Ertl said: “In this context, we must ensure that the entire life cycle of a product is considered, not just aspects at the end of the life cycle.”

He called on political leaders to work closely with the PVC industry to analyse the potential impacts of any decisions that might threaten the PVC sector, adding: “They should ensure that the process is developing smoothly without too many frictions. We in the PVC and plastics industry will support such an approach.”

Michael Kundel, President of the European Plastics Converters (EuPC) stated that a clear way forward on how to handle end of life PVC is ‘urgently required’ if its further potential is to be exploited in the future. He called on the PVC industry and political decision-makers to ‘co-operate fully and establish a framework that meets the needs of a low carbon economy’.

He added: “The VinylPlus Voluntary Commitment has set a framework and can serve as a roadmap on how to create a more sustainable future with plastic materials along the value chain. Being the successful pioneer, VinylPlus might well serve as a role model for other plastics too.”

In his update on the Agenda 2030 and the Circular Economy, Christophe Yvetot, UNIDO Representative to the European Union United Nations Industrial Development Organization, outlined PVC’s contribution to the ‘less is more’ vision through its greater durability, longevity and recyclability in materials used in future urban developments.

Presenting the 2016 results, VinylPlus General Manager Brigitte Dero highlighted the achievements of a ‘united PVC value chain’ within the VinylPlus framework, which included the recycling of 568,696 tonnes of PVC last year. A cumulative total of more than 3.5 million tonnes of PVC has been recycled since 2000 thanks to the efforts of VinylPlus. Progress on additives includes the development of the Additives Sustainability Footprint (ASF), a science-based methodology for assessing the sustainable use of additives in PVC products. The first ASF will be completed for window profiles this year, followed by flexible applications.

Brigitte stated: “Through the VinylPlus Voluntary Commitment, we can provide solutions to issues raised in the EU discussion on Plastics Strategy. In 2016, we made real progress towards our sustainability goals in terms of the safety and quality of recycled PVC, alongside recognition by external stakeholders that VinylPlus is considered by many as a frontrunner for the circular economy. You can find out more in our Progress Report 2017.”

Discussion also centred on Circular Economy policies, both regionally and Europe-wide and their potential impact on the plastics industry as a whole. Dr ir Werner Bosmans, EU Commission, DG Environment, updated delegates on the EU Strategy on Plastics in a Circular Economy. Cees Luttikhuizen, Senior Policy Advisor at The Netherlands Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment evaluated the impact of REACH policies for waste and the circular economy.

Two keynote speeches from Norbert Kurilla, State Secretary at the Slovak Ministry of Environment and Dr Alexander Janz from the German Federal Ministry for Environment highlighted best practice and developments towards a circular economy in their respective countries.

Dr Janz said: “The many possible uses of plastics have made them an integral part of our daily lives. It is precisely for that reason that, now more than ever, we have to strengthen the sustainable management of plastics along the entire value chain and in doing so reduce negative effects on the environment and human health.”

Reflecting on the Forum, Josef Ertl concluded: “Innovation is the main driver which creates ways to reduce emissions and consumption of raw materials and resources. It improves energy and cost efficiency and it increases products’ useful lives. It will create a lot of new ways to improve recycling. Through the VinylPlus Voluntary Commitment, with the entire value chain, we contribute to overcoming the challenges faced in a circular economy.”

VinylPlus is the Voluntary Commitment of the European PVC industry. The programme establishes a long-term framework for the sustainable development of the PVC industry by tackling a number of critical challenges in the EU-28, Norway and Switzerland.

More information on the 2017 Forum can be found at http://vinylplus.eu/community/vinyl-sustainability-forum/vsf-2017.

120 delegates representing over 50 companies in the European value chain for PVC insulated cables gathered in Bologna on 20th November for ‘PVC Cables 2014’ - the first European workshop supporting the sustainable development of PVC cable insulation materials. The workshop was jointly organised by the European Council of Vinyl Manufacturers (ECVM) and PVC Forum Italia (the Italian association of the PVC value chain).

PVC is already the most popular polymer used for electrical and telecommunications cables – thanks to its advantages in terms of the best cost: performance ratio, favourable product ecoprofile and recyclability.

Over the past 20 years the PVC value chain has been working hard, not only to continually improve the quality and performance of the final products, but also to make significant sustainable development progress. The voluntary commitments of the European PVC industry, Vinyl 2010 and VinylPlus, have contributed to the development of a new generation of PVC formulations.

Furthermore, new recycling technologies, such as VinyLoop®, have enabled recycled PVC from old PVC cables to be used in high performance applications.

There were presentations at the workshop covering the state-of-the-art on PVC cable developments, including details of fire testing, developments in standards and regulations (such as the EU Construction Products Regulations).

Performance and recycling advantages of PVC cables as compared to rival materials were recorded. End-user case studies highlighted the preference for using PVC cables in safety critical applications at high-profile events such as the London 2012 Olympics.

Carlo Ciotti of PVC Forum Italia commented, “This is a very important step since the entire PVC cables value chain (producers of resin, additives, compounds and cable manufacturers) showed a strong commitment in promoting the benefits of PVC cables in terms of environmental and technical performances.”

Fabrice Colin of INEOS ChlorVinyls commercial team added, “The workshop provided details about the achievement of over 100,000 tonnes per year of post-consumer PVC cable recycling across the EU. This achievement represents a major sustainable development advantage for PVC cables over rival cable insulation materials.”

Arjen Sevenster of ECVM stated, “It is highly encouraging that such a large contingent of the PVC cables value chain met in Bologna for this landmark event. The event enabled good networking and sharing of best practice case studies. It is now very clear that not only scientific studies, but also direct experience of end users demonstrate the advantages of PVC cables in terms of mechanical performance, fire safety, transmission characteristics, processability, appearance, flexibility and cost. I hope that this event will result in even greater collaboration throughout the PVC cable value chain to further improve and promote PVC cable benefits.”