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Basel Convention classifying PVC as a notifiable material now in force

Latest updates to the Basel Convention, an international treaty that governs the shipments of hazardous waste, has identified PVC as a notifiable material. This is creating more paperwork plus additional costs for UK based suppliers, making the import/export of PVC waste between the UK and Europe a far more stringent process.

A notification gives permission to move PVC waste between a specific site, using a specific route, by specific carriers to a specific destination. The notification usually lasts 12 months, and the cost will depend on how many loads between those specific sites are needed within that year. For example, for five loads or less, the application cost is £1450 but here there are additional costs because the notifier must provide a financial guarantee to cover the Environment Agency fees should the waste need to be returned to the UK. For notifications of over 500 shipments the costs begin at around £14, 250.

Passing costs along

The changes in the Basel Convention which implement the requirement to notify PVC (and all plastic polymers in their various categories) were agreed in May 2019 to be implemented from 1 January 2021. Finally, it seems that traditional PVC banner is reaching the end of the road. If the long recognised harmful health and environmental evidence isn’t enough, the latest regulations, associated costs and possible fines have jeopardised the single thing that PVC banner had going for it – cheapness of price. In short, the juice is no longer worth the squeeze.

A terrible legacy

Polyvinyl Chloride is the most toxic plastic in the world. While solid PVC recycling for the construction industry for example is well established, PVC banner recycling is a different story, which due to the number of additives ie phthalates, plasticisers and chemicals it contains, makes recovery complex and impractical. Tests have also shown that recycled PVC banner material is substandard, unstable and very expensive.

Because of the difficulties with recycling, the life story of a PVC graphic always has an unhappy ending. It is estimated that in 2018, over 340 million square metres of PVC banner material was printed in Europe, much of which either ended up in landfill, where it will remain for hundreds of years, leaching pernicious chemicals into the ground water, or it is simply incinerated.

The trouble with this is that when PVC is burned it emits hydrogen chloride (HCl), a noxious and dangerous colourless gas, which along with toxic dioxins are extremely damaging to the air, water and land eco systems. These chemicals are also highly corrosive and hugely injurious to human health, causing cancers, birth defects and even death.

Kavalan PVC free

The wide format print industry, aware of the hazards of PVC, has long been searching for an eco alternative. Over the past decade several products have been launched onto the market but none lived up to the promise.

However, this has now categorically changed with the arrival of PVC free Kavalan, a true replacement for PVC (available from CMYUK). Uncannily, it has the same look, feel, performance and strength of traditional PVC with none of its toxicity. As a core product Kavalan has never been historically as cheap as PVC but it is certainly cheap enough. With new penalties in the overall PVC supply chain rising, overall costs will inevitably start to tip the price balance, all accompanied by a new corporate mindset that now demands accountability and traceability in the life of a product.

Accreditations and testing

Kavalan is water based, PVC and phthalate free, and has LCA accreditation, a stringent environmental rating that assesses the impact of a material from manufacture to disposal. It is also RoHS, REACH compliant and has all relevant standard fire ratings: NFPA-701, DIN4102-B1and EN13501-1.

Its stringent eco credentials are also matched by its quality and performance. The ability to hold a weld is key to banner performance and in independent tests carried out by global welding titans FIAB, Miller Weldmaster and LEISTER, Kavalan triumphed with 100% approval.

Market readiness

The market misconception that a non PVC material doesn’t cut it when it comes to real commercial outdoor environments no longer stands. Sports brands for example, have stringent sustainability targets, and now they can specify Kavalan for all their outdoor/stadium banner work knowing that they are using a green product that delivers on quality, performance and safety.

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