The PVC industry can play a major role reducing CO2 emissions and improving energy efficiency
The particiapants at the Vinyl Sustainability Forum 2013 discussed the future of the Emissions Trading Scheme, the road to sustainable chemistry and the opportunities of the building renovation sector.
Minimising climate impact of the PVC industry through reducing energy and raw material consumption is one of the key challenges agreed as part of the 10 year commitment of VinylPlus. How to concretely achieve these goals is still being discussed but there seem to be already a clear agreement that the process will go beyond manufacturing.
For example, the energy savings advantages of PVC applications can be a great asset in the building and construction sector. As explained by Dan Staniaszek from the Buildings Performance Institute Europe (BPIE), “typically, new buildings could have up to 70 percent better energy performance. In light of the ambitious targets set by the EU for all new buildings to be ‘nearly-zero energy’ by 2020, PVC is well suited to play an important role in the near future. The same can be said for renovations.” As indicated by Staniaszek, it is important to work on removing the existing barriers and create incentives to improve the energy performance of existing buildings.
Regarding the current climate change policy in the EU, Marteen Neelis from Ecofys explained that “it is important to start preparing for what’s going to happen after 2020, the PVC sectors needs to be proactive.” Currently, he explained that prices for CO2 allowances on the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) are quite low but “could go up quickly.” There is a lot of uncertainty and especially for such a sector that relies heavily on electricity and fuel prices. Similar schemes are also being developed around the world in places like China, Australia or California.
According to Neelis, “the manufacturing industry is needed. Not only for growth and job creation but also to make sustainability happen”. In his opinion, the PVC industry should focus on innovation and try to develop breakthrough technologies which can achieve drastic CO2 reductions.
Lars Josefsson, Chairman of the PVC Forum Sweden presented the innovative R&D work being done in his country to combine chemistry and forestry in a sustainable way. As he explained, both sectors have “common goals and targets.” It was only logical to pair PVC, which is looking for new bio-based energy feedstock, and the forestry sector, which is looking for new markets now that the use of pulp for paper production is decreasing. Currently, they are working on a pilot plant to generate ethylene from tree-based ethanol. “Chemistry is not the problem, chemistry is the solution,” said Josefsson