PVC is a plastic derived from salt (57%) and oil (43%) and has numerous applications involving a series of products, such as packaging, wires and cables, hoses, window profiles and laminates, shoes, toys, tubes and connections, etc.
The main market is for pipes and connections applied in civil construction, distribution of drinking water and basic sanitation. This prominent position in pipelines stems from the prolonged useful life of PVC, which in these cases ranges from 50 to 100 years.
PVC recycling is not new. Historically, it has been happening since the beginning of its production. However, it only gained momentum in a more organized way with the ecological movements of developed countries.
The waste of plastic material has been increasing in volume due to several factors, such as population growth, increased purchasing power of the population and greater use of plastic packaging due to the ease of transportation and distribution and the decrease in product losses.
According to the most recent surveys, the Brazilian market generates around 450,000 tons of industrial, agricultural and urban plastic waste annually. Of this total, around 200,000 tons (equivalent to 8% on average of the national production of plastics and 13% of apparent consumption) are recycled by approximately 800 industries. In the 1960s, the volume of recycled plastic was around 2,000 tons a year, which represents an increase of 10,000% in just over 30 years; which gives an average annual increase of 333.3%.
Plastic parts have a small share in weight in the trash. In Brazil, they represent an average of 3%. PVC waste represents on average 0.3% of the total weight of household waste. This is because PVC is more used in long-lasting products, such as pipes and connections, wires and cables for civil construction.
Recycled PVC has several applications. It is used in the central layer of sewage pipes, in reinforcements for shoes, expansion joints for concrete, profiles, signal cones, etc. In the Brazilian market, products obtained with recycled PVC include soles, flexible laminates, garden hoses, decks and floors. Consumer protection legislation and technical standards worldwide veto the use of recycled plastic in food and medicine packaging, toys and medical and hospital articles.