|Vol 7, No.13, 29.3.01, p4
EURO MPs are set to vote for a partial phase-out of the controversial plastic material polyvinyl chloride (PVC) that manufacturers say would cost thousands of jobs across Europe's €72-billion industry.
MEPs will vote next Tuesday (3 April) on a report by Italian Socialist Guido Sacconi that calls for manufacturers to substitute other materials in a range of products.
Green MEPs were delighted last week when a number of amendments to toughen up the report won cross-party support as the Parliament's environment committee met to respond to the Commission's consultation paper on the options for disposing of PVC.
"We had a solid result at the environment committee," said Green Vice-President Paul Lannoye.
"Given the knowledge we have on PVC and the clear call from the public at large for its substitution, we hope the full plenary will follow the committee'srecommendations."
The Parliament's opinion is likely to provide the basis for new legislation to be unveiled by the EU executive within a few months.
PVC is widely seen as a problem material for waste disposal. Incineration releases hydrochloric acid and cancer-causing dioxins; dumping in landfill sites can release lead and other toxic additives into the environment. At the moment, Sweden is carrying out a risk assessment of the main phthalate softener used in PVC products, including children's toys, which is suspected of damaging human reproduction.
But industry groups are critical of the report, which targets medical products, building materials and the majority of household goods for phase-out.
"We don't believe there's a need to substitute any PVC products," said Martyn Griffiths of the European Council of Vinyl Manufacturers (EVCM).
PVC contributed just 1% of heavy metals in landfill sites, he said, and phthalates released from waste were biodegradable.
"These measures would have a terrible effect on the 21,000 companies in Europe's PVC industry," he said. "Most of those are small and medium-sized enterprises."
But supporters of a phase-out say fears over the 530,000 jobs in PVC processing are overblown.
"If PVC is phased out then other sectors will grow, and the same industries are key players in these sectors," said Lannoye. "We're talking about transformation of the industry, not closure."
Euro MPs are set to vote for a partial phase-out of the controversial plastic material polyvinyl chloride (PVC) that manufacturers say would cost thousands of jobs across Europe's €72 billion industry.
|Business and Industry, Environment