This is a personal comment from Deceuninck UK MD Rob McGlennon

Many people know I’m not an EU fan, but even I was dumbstruck by the European Parliament’s decision to ban the use of recycled PVC. In simple language, they voted to throw the baby out with the bathwater! The use of lead is banned, so recycling old profiles that contain lead must be banned too. However, applying some common sense, low levels of lead locked up in manufactured profiles pose infinitesimally low risks to property owners, fabricators and installers, and extremely low risks in profile manufacturing provided sensible precautions are taken.

Given the EU’s commitment to sustainability, CO2 reduction and recycling, this should never have happened. But, as we know, from the voting record in our own parliament last year, sometimes parliaments can’t see the wood for the trees and get things badly wrong.

However, we expect the European Commission to re-table a modified proposal, and we’re hopeful the Commission will propose a lower threshold value or validity period, or simply override the decision altogether.

Deceuninck remains 100% committed to sustainability and it’s important for us to close the loop and make our processes as sustainable as possible. Our new recycling line near Deceuninck’s headquarters in Diksmuide, Belgium can recycle up to 45,000 tonnes of PVC-U a year. That’s the equivalent of two million windows a year that would otherwise end up as scrap in landfill or incineration. We will continue to focus on recycling and our role in the circular economy of PVC. Here is the full press statement from Deceuninck Group:

Deceuninck convinced recycling remains smartest solution for old PVC windows

Last week the European Parliament has adopted a motion that objects against the lead restriction in PVC materials as proposed by the European Commission in protection of

public health. Deceuninck, leading provider of window and door solutions in PVC and aluminium, sees this vote as a missed opportunity to create a legal framework for the recycling of old PVC windows.

The European Parliament refused the Commission’s proposal to restrict the use of lead in PVC with an authorisation period of 15 years for recycled PVC (up to 2% for rigid PVC). This specifically on the provisions allowing continued controlled recycling in specific applications. With this decision the European Parliament goes against the assessment of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and creates a contradictory situation further authorising the use of lead in PVC based on REACH.

Deceuninck sees this vote as a missed opportunity for the establishment of a legal framework for the recycling of old PVC windows. However, we can assure the decision won’t affect our customers and will have no short-term impact on our activities or on those of our recycling plant. Deceuninck is convinced that mechanical recycling is the only smart alternative for old PVC windows contrary to landfill or incineration.

The European Commission is now in charge and will most probably re-table a modified proposal to Member States and the European Parliament. This could be a lower threshold value (e.g. 1%) or validity period, or the deletion of the derogation altogether. Other more unlikely options for the Commission are either to restart the entire scientific process with ECHA (will take about 5 years) or lay low and sweep the restriction under the rug. In the meantime, Deceuninck will continue to focus on recycling and persist in its leading role in the circular economy of PVC, both in the short term and in the future.

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