The Six Pillars of the U.S. Vinyl Industry’s Sustainability Strategy +
Pillar 3: Celebrating and Communicating Success
The vinyl industry is already more sustainable today than in the past, thanks to the numerous efforts vinyl industry members have undertaken over the years.
For nearly four decades the vinyl resin industry has designed and implemented worker safety best practices and new technologies that continuously improve our facilities’ health, safety and environmental performance. Each year the Vinyl Institute recognizes facilities with outstanding performance.
Worker safety and safety training are top priorities.
The industry recognized 15 facilities in 2016 with no OSHA recordable incidents the previous year. And the industry had six facilities that had no OSHA recordable incidents for a period of five or more consecutive years.
Reduced emissions through advanced technology.
U.S. vinyl resin producers are heavily regulated by EPA and OSHA. As a result, the industry has some of the fewest environmental emissions in the world related to the production of vinyl resin. The U.S. industry has achieved significant reductions in hazardous air and water pollutants for nearly four decades. U.S. vinyl chloride emissions have decreased 83 percent per pound since 1987, while vinyl resin production has increased by 82 percent over the same time period.
Eliminating heavy metals.
Lead stabilizers were completely phased out of rigid vinyl in the U.S. in the early 1990s and phased out of flexible applications in 2006. To the VI’s knowledge, no lead was ever used as a stabilizer in vinyl pipe produced in the United States.
U.S. vinyl chloride producers have not relied upon chlorine from mercury cell technology facilities for nearly a decade. Vinyl chloride is the primary raw material in the manufacture of PVC resin and is produced at integrated sites that manufacturer chlorine with modern diaphragm or membrane type technology.
1 Billion pounds of vinyl is recycled annually in North America.
Of the 15 billion pounds of vinyl resin produced annually, approximately 7 billion pounds goes into water infrastructure, which is in the ground and has a service life of more than 100 years (source USU study). According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's annual sustainable materials management report, vinyl materials represent less than 3 percent of the plastics in landfills in the United States.
Vinyl Resin, Compounding and Additives Sustainability Resources include Vinyl Resin Life Cycle Inventory (LCI), The Role of PVC Resins in Sustainable Design (white paper); Recycling as a Sustainability Practice in the North American Vinyl Industry (white paper); and Material Matters: Vinyl's Role in Sustainability, Resilience and the Education of Design Professionals (white paper).
PVC pipe is a high-performance piping material because it is corrosion proof, has a service life in excess of 100 years, requires less energy and fewer resources to manufacture than other piping materials, and its production creates virtually no waste. PVC pipe is tested and certified by NSF International, a public health and safety organization.
Large diameter PVC pipe is used in underground infrastructure projects for transmission of raw, potable and recycled water and for sewer collection and storm drainage in municipalities across North American.
Small diameter PVC pipe is used in a number of applications. It conforms to ASTM standards for both pressure and non-pressure applications, including drain-waste-vent (DWV), water service lines, sewer, irrigation and conduit.
Small diameter CPVC pipe is a higher temperature modified PVC resin and is used in a number of additional piping applications. It conforms to ASTM standards and is commonly used in hot- and cold-water pressure, chemical drain, and fire sprinkler systems.
Manufacturers of large and small diameter pipe have undertaken a number of sustainability efforts.
PVC Pipe (Large Diameter) Sustainability resources include PVC Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), PVC Pipe Environmental Product Declaration (EPD). Codes and standards information for large diameter pipe include NSF International certification for more than 40 years, pressure, sewer and storm drainage pipe standards. Visit PVC Pipe Association website for more information about large diameter PVC pipe sustainability efforts.
PVC and CPVC Pipe (Small Diameter) Sustainability resources includes two Life Cycle Inventory reports (LCI), a Sustainable Manufacturing Certification program, and Green Building and application reports. Visit Plastic Pipe and Fittings Association (PPFA) website for more information about small diameter PVC and CPVC Pipe sustainability efforts.
Vinyl siding has a number of sustainability attributes, including durability, low maintenance, and energy efficiency. It can withstand the hottest summers and sub-zero winters and resists fading. Because it does not absorb water it does not rot or decay, making it a durable, long lasting and easy to maintain. Insulated vinyl siding acts like a blanket and protects against heat loss, making a home more energy efficient. When compared to other cladding materials, vinyl siding has excellent environmental performance throughout its lifecycle based on the Building for the Environmental and Economic Sustainability (BEES) lifecycle analysis tool, developed by the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST).
Members of the Vinyl Siding Institute have taken a leading role in quantifying the environmental impacts of their products.
Vinyl Siding Sustainability resources include Vinyl Siding Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), Vinyl Siding Environmental Product Declaration (EPD), Insulated Vinyl Siding Environmental Product Declaration (EPD), Today’s Vinyl Siding: Verifiably Green (paper), and Siding with the Environment (article). Visit the Vinyl Siding Institute for more information about their members’ sustainability efforts.
Vinyl roofing can improve building energy efficiency while positively impacting the quality of the urban environment. The longevity of vinyl roofing membranes – combined with their relatively low use of non-renewable resources, reflectivity, energy-efficient characteristics, suitability for green roof assemblies and recyclability – make them the sustainable choice among commercial roofing systems. The reflectance, emittance and/or solar reflectance index criteria for LEED, ENERGY STAR, Green Globes, and California’s Title 24 can all be met through the use of a reflective vinyl roofing membrane.
Members of the Chemical Film and Fabric Association's Vinyl Roofing Division have taken a leading role in the environmental impacts of their products by initiating a sustainability standard for single ply roofing – NSF/ANSI 347, by conducting a lifecycle inventory (LCI) and populating the U.S. LCI database, by driving the development of industry product category rules (PCRs) for single ply roofing, by conducting a cradle-to-gate lifecycle assessment (LCA), and by developing a third-party certified environmental product health declaration.
Vinyl Roofing Sustainability resources include Vinyl Roofing Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), NSF/ANSI 347 Sustainability Standard, Vinyl Roofing Environmental Product Declaration (EPD), and Green Building and Sustainability Standards. Visit the Chemical Film and Fabric Association and vinylroofs.org websites for more information.
Vinyl windows provide a unique blend of energy efficiency, long service life, ease of maintenance, and low cost. Nearly 100 percent of the pre-consumer waste created in the production and installation of vinyl windows and doors in North America is recycled. The recovery of production trimmings and scrap is returned to the vinyl extrusion supplier or local recycling center for reprocessing into fenestration or other products.
Working with affiliated associations including the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance (IGMA), the Glass Association of North America (GANA) and the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA), the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) has developed the Windows Product Category Rule (PCR) This PCR was published in September of 2015, and applies to windows, skylights, curtain walls and storefronts. Based on these rules, manufacturers will be able to conduct a lifecycle assessment and Environmental Product Declarations for their products.
In AAMA, the Vinyl Materials Council (VMC) maintains a leadership role representing the sustainability interests of vinyl window producers and their component suppliers.
Vinyl Window Sustainability Resources include Vinyl Window Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), Avoiding the Landfill: The Recycling of Vinyl Windows and Doors (white paper), and Sustainable Vinyl: One material, Virtually Endless Possibilities (white paper). Visit the American Architectural Manufacturers Association website for more information about their members’ sustainability efforts.
Members of the Resilient Floor Covering Institute (RFCI) have worked hard over the years to ensure that vinyl flooring is sustainably responsible. They have done this through voluntary industry programs that support safe, healthy and sustainable environments. New innovations are continually being introduced to improve product recycling, product recycled content, and indoor air quality.
RFCI is leading the way in sustainability with FloorScore, an independent certification program that requires products to meet stringent requirements for healthy indoor air quality. RFCI worked with NSF International to establish a multi-attribute NSF International Draft Standard for Sustainable Resilient Flooring – NSF 332. They worked with UL Environment to develop an industry environmental product declaration (EPD) and a led the way for a ASTM Product Transparency Standard disclosing product ingredients and associated exposure risks.
Vinyl Flooring Sustainability resources include Vinyl Flooring Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), Floor Score Certification, NSF International Draft Standard for Sustainable Resilient Flooring – NSF-332, Resilient Flooring Environmental Product Declaration, and a ASTM ingredient disclosure standard. Visit the Resilient Floor Covering Institute for more information about vinyl flooring.
Cabling and connectivity components of choice for buildings, trains, planes and automobiles, as well as for computer servers connecting the Internet of Things contain PVC because of its flame-retardant qualities. PVC cabling is also recyclable and a good percentage of it is recycled back into cable and connectivity products. It’s also efficient to produce. Because of the chemical makeup of PVC, it is a polymer that can be produced with a lot less energy than many other alternative materials. Coupled with its inherent flame-retardant qualities, manufacturers need to add a lot fewer ingredients to make PVC work effectively in producing cables.
Members of the Communications Cable and Connectivity Association (CCCA) are committed to the preservation of global resources and environmental stewardship. CCCA was a major contributor in the development of the criteria and a sustainability index for cabling and connectivity product manufacturers serving the Information Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure. CCCA is supporting member of the Sustainable Technology Environments Program (STEP) Foundation. CCCA worked together with the Telecommunications Industry Association to create the ANSI/TIA-4994 Standard for Sustainable ICT.
Cable and Wiring resources include STEP for ICT Manufacturers ICT Sustainability Index (white paper), and the ANSI/TIA-4994 Standard for Sustainable Information Communications Technology (standard information). Visit the Communications Cable and Connectivity Association for more information about the cable and connectivity industry’s sustainability efforts.