This is the final posting in a seven part series.
Q: I’ve heard that PVC cannot be recycled. Is this true?
A: No. In fact, PVC is inherently recyclable. Vinyl materials can be reprocessed and recycled repeatedly, and PVC is the only roofing material that has proven to be recyclable back into new roofing products. In Europe, PVC roofing materials have been recycled for nearly 15 years. In the U.S., more than one billion pounds of post-industrial vinyl are recycled annually, and that number is growing. Many U.S. PVC roofing manufacturers have established recycling programs, including Duro-Last Roofing, Inc.’s sister company, Oscoda Plastics, Inc. has recycled an annual average of almost six million pounds of vinyl over the last three years using PVC scrap from at least 20 sources representing at least 10 types of products, including film, sheeting, seats, air domes, automotive and, of course, roofing.
The Vinyl Roofing Division of CFFA initiated a feasibility study for national recycling in January of 2008. PVC can also be safely incinerated to recover and use the latent energy, or land-filled. In fact, many landfills use PVC liners to contain contamination.
Q: Didn’t the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) just propose a new LEED system for health-care facilities that awards sustainability points for avoiding halogenated products like PVC?
A: Yes. Last November, the USGBC issued a draft proposal for LEED for Healthcare (LEED-HC) that would award points for avoiding all halogenated materials, including PVC. To date, LEED-HC has undergone two public comment periods, ending February 19, 2008 with many organizations and member companies questioning a rating system that ignores the conclusion of their own five-year study on PVC building materials. What’s curious about the LEED-HC proposal is that it was issued just a few months after its own Technical and Scientific Advisory Committee (TSAC) issued its final report to the USGBC’s LEED Steering Committee (LSC) on the technical and scientific basis for PVC-related credits within the LEED Green Building Rating System. Like so many other exhaustive LCA studies, the five-year TSAC study is the best environmental option.
Q: Where can I go for more information about the safety, sustainability, use and performance of PVC roofing systems, or PVC in general?
A: There are plenty of places to get solid, scientifically-proven information about PVC products and roofing materials: