VinylPlus – the European PVC industry’s voluntary commitment to sustainable development

On 22 June 2011, the European Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) industry launched VinylPlus – a new voluntary commitment to enhance the sustainable production and use of PVC by 2020. It’s no secret that PVC is a controversial material that has both critics and supporters, so when an entire industry consortium mobilises around a voluntary commitment such as this, it is surely a positive sign that sustainable development is being taken seriously in the board rooms of major corporations.

Lifting the level of ambition.

On top of this, the VinylPlus initiative represents an expanded scope and level of ambition over prior efforts. Targets are derived from The Natural Step System Conditions for sustainability, and build on our previous work in the sector (see links below).

Over the last two years, through a series of activities, The Natural Step has worked with the Board of the initiative to review and map out the challenges for PVC, offer capacity building workshops, gather stakeholder views and provide recommendations on the formulation of the new industry charter.

Applying the Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development

We used the ABCD planning process to help industry leaders apply the framework and arrive at the priorities. We did this by first beginning with a vision of where the industry wants to head, identifying challenges that must be overcome, generating ideas on what needs to be done and finally arriving at priorities and targets for the period to 2020.

Engaging stakeholders

Before deciding on the priorities and actions to be undertaken we contacted 113 stakeholders across Europe on behalf of the board of Vinyl2010 with a briefing on the challenges we had identified together with industry representatives. These stakeholders included representatives of the public, PVC users, regulatory and policy-making institutions across the EU and sustainability-related NGO’s.

Following feedback from stakeholders, the priorities and concerns were reported to the Board of Vinyl2010 and used in the formulation of exact goals and targets.

Building on past achievements

VinylPlus builds on the achievements and results of Vinyl 2010, the first Voluntary Commitment of the European PVC industry. The following video describes the industry’s progress over the years and the accompanying press release contains more detail as the initiative was announced  (press release: European PVC industry meets ten-year targets on sustainable development and looks to the future with optimism).

Moving forward with VinylPlus

We are pleased to see an increased level of ambition in VinylPlus and believe it sets out a clear roadmap for the industry. Proof will nevertheless be in the action and it will be judged by whether targets are met and stakeholders feel their views are being heard. David Cook, Executive Ambassador for The Natural Step, shared his views on the challenges that lie ahead of the industry at the launch of VinylPlus in June 2011:

Moving forward The Natural Step’s role will be to follow the new initiative in the following capacity:

  1. Critical Friend – challenging and advising the industry to make progress while ensuring the initiative retains the direct link to The Natural Step system conditions for sustainability.
  2. Stakeholder intermediary – encouraging constant external monitoring and communication with external stakeholders
  3. Capacity builder – supporting industry to integrate sustainability principles into their operations in order to achieve the goals set out in the initiative.

We welcome feedback on the initiative and particularly our role as outlined above.

> Read our blog from the launch: European PVC Industry launches new ten year sustainability commitment

> For more information and background about our work with PVC, visit www.thenaturalstep.org/pvc.

> For more information about VinylPlus, visit: http://www.vinylplus.eu/

> For information about approach to sustainable chemicals management visit: http://www.thenaturalstep.org/chemicals

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