Environmental issues of PVC

Environmental issues of PVC

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Environmental issues of PVC


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.


Environmental issues of PVC

The Commission assesses the impact of PVC waste on the environment and presents proposals for addressing the problems that may arise in this respect.

Document or Iniciative

Green Paper of 26 July 2000 – Environmental issues of PVC [COM(2000) 469 – Not published in the Official Journal].


A report on the PVC situation in Europe. Opinions vary on the effects of PVC on human health and the environment, as do the measures taken by some Member States to deal with the problem. PVC is one of today’s most widely used plastics. The European Commission therefore considers that an integrated approach is necessary. This would enable two objectives to be achieved: the proper functioning of the internal market and a high level of protection for human health and the environment.

The Green Paper follows on from the Commission’s commitment, in its draft Directive on end-of-life vehicles, to assess the impact of PVC waste on the environment in an “integrated approach”, i.e. throughout the life cycle of PVC. It is the outcome of a three-year study programme launched by the Commission on the technical, scientific and economic aspects of the PVC life cycle. The adoption of the Green Paper is an important milestone in the development of a global Community strategy on PVC.

The Green Paper tackles two main issues:

  • environmental and health questions concerning the use of certain additives in PVC (particularly lead, cadmium and phtalates);
  • the question of waste management (landfill, incineration, recycling of PVC waste): PVC waste is expected to increase by about 80% over the next twenty years.

The Green Paper also presents a range of policy options for reducing the impact on human health and the environment and for possible measures to form part of a future Community strategy on PVC.

The Commission wishes to organise the broadest possible consultation on the topics dealt with in the Green Paper, involving the general public, environmental and consumer NGOs, producers, processors and users of PVC, and the public authorities of the Member States. A public hearing was held in October 2000. On the basis of the consultation, the Commission will present a communication on the Community strategy on PVC.

Comments by interested parties were collected by the Commission until November 2000.

Related Acts

Commission Communication of 21 December 2005 – Taking sustainable use of resources forward: a Thematic Strategy on the prevention and recycling of waste [– Not published in the Official Journal].
This strategy sets out guidelines and describes measures aimed at reducing the pressure on the environment caused by waste production and management. The main thrust of the strategy is on amending the legislation to improve implementation, and on preventing waste and promoting effective recycling.

of the European Parliament and of the Council of 3 December 2001 on general product safety [Official Journal L 11 of 15 January 2002].
The general safety of products placed on the market is guaranteed by Community legislation, which ensures a consistent, high level of protection for the health and safety of consumers. The European Union (EU) has introduced a rapid alert system for products which pose a serious risk (RAPEX), and provisions for products to be withdrawn from the market if they are likely to put the health and safety of consumers at risk.

of the Commission of 7 December 1999 adopting measures prohibiting the placing on the market of toys and childcare articles intended to be placed in the mouth by children under three years of age, made of soft PVC containing one or more substances containing phthalates.
Toys intended to be placed in the mouth by children under three years of age and containing phthalates are prohibited throughout the European Union. Importing these products is also prohibited. Phthalates are toxic substances which may be found in soft PVC, a type of plastic which is also used in the manufacturing of toys.

Parliament resolution on the Commission’s Green Paper on Environmental Issues of PVC.
In this Resolution, Parliament criticises the Commission for failing to carry out an analysis of the life cycle of PVC products in order to make a comparison with alternative materials. Parliament calls on the Commission to present at the earliest opportunity a draft long-term horizontal strategy for the replacement of PVC. It proposes that the polluter pays principle be applied to PVC waste. It also calls for the necessary measures be taken to ensure the separate collection of PVC. Parliament calls on the Commission to propose banning the use of lead and cadmium in PVC. It suggests introducing a recycling system similar to that for junk automobiles and the compulsory labelling of all plastics.

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