Vinyl Confab Focuses on PVC Research and Market Needs

Single-ply PVC roofing membranes are increasingly recycled into new membranes for vinyl siding substrates and other applications.
Single-ply PVC roofing membranes are increasingly recycled into new membranes for vinyl siding substrates and other applications. Courtesy of Chemical Fabrics and Film Association

VinylTec to highlight product and technology developments and sustainability

The VinylTec 2023 conference will present an array of topics of importance to the polyvinyl chloride industry. The event, themed “Positioning Vinyl for Tomorrow,” is hosted by SPE’s Vinyl Plastics Division and Akron Section, and will be held in Akron, Ohio, Oct. 10-12.  

The conference begins with a tutorial Oct. 10 that will cover PVC resin, additives, compounding, manufacturing and testing. Oct. 11 and 12 will feature market and regulatory updates, megatrends such as artificial intelligence and sustainability, and technical topics. New this year are updates on the vinyl roofing and vinyl flooring markets.  

Promoting PVC Sustainability 

Plastic product developments will increasingly require an emphasis on identifying and communicating the most sustainable ways to make, use and recycle them. Conference presentations include sustainability issues and new ways in which scientists are addressing PVC challenges.  

Li Xi, associate professor of chemical engineering at McMaster University in Canada, will discuss an inter-institutional project, funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, to build a circular economy for PVC. The project involves investigators at McMaster, Queens University and Laval University, in partnership with two Ontario companies: Oligomaster and Pixiu Solutions. Mechanical and biochemical recycling technologies are being explored.  

In Xi’s lab, researchers are developing chemical analysis methods to examine the composition of recycled PVC.  

“Knowing the ingredients of recycled materials can help us understand the chemical changes occurring during thermal processing and use of the materials. This is essential to understand the reason for the loss of performance when substantial recycled materials are integrated into production lines. It will also help us develop reprocessing strategies for different recycled materials based on their compositions. In addition, we are … examining the effects of thermal processing and thermal aging on PVC degradation and plasticizer loss, [and investigating] the effects of different stabilizers on mitigating degradation loss,” says Xi.  

The Queens and Laval teams are studying worms that consume PVC and digest them into small-molecule compounds for use as raw materials in other chemical production. Xi says the Queens team will perform life-cycle analysis (LCA) and techno-economic analysis on both routes to identify relative strengths.  

Process for PVC Chemical Recycling  

At the University of Michigan, researchers in Professor Anne McNeil’s lab have been working on a method for chemical recycling of PVC. Graduate student Rahul Jha will present the method, developed by Dr. Danielle Fagnani. It uses electrochemistry to strip chlorine off plasticized PVC to form hydrochloric (HCl) acid, which is used to chlorinate arenes. “Chlorinated arenes are used in agrochemical, polymer and pharmaceutical industries, among others,” says McNeil.  

A simplified LCA suggests that this process would have a lower global warming potential than conventionally generated HCl acid. “While we ultimately hope to make a commercially viable method, more work is needed to improve the current system. The immediate goal is to explore the scope and utility of this process with other PVC sources and chemistries,” explains McNeil. 

Ned Monroe, president and CEO of the Vinyl Institute, Washington D.C., will highlight how members seek to create sustainable pathways for the industry.  

“U.S. vinyl producers are working collaboratively to develop strategies for circularity while defending how the use of PVC products contributes to achieving U.N. Sustainable Development Goals,” says Monroe. The Vinyl Sustainability Council (VSC), a Vinyl Institute initiative, brings together the vinyl value chain to collaborate on this mission. “The VSC’s sustainability scorecard is one example of how our industry demonstrates its commitment to sustainability. It provides members throughout the vinyl value chain the ability to adapt, design and innovate formulations, products and processes based on the sustainable outcomes they want.”  

“More than 1.1 billion pounds of PVC is recycled annually in the U.S. and Canada,” adds Monroe. “To increase post-consumer PVC recycling, U.S. producers established a recycling grant program called Viability, and we invite new applicants to accelerate PVC recycling by visiting our website ( and starting the process.”

By Jennifer Markarian | July 4, 2023

Share Your Thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Stay updated
Each week, receive a summary of all the latest news from the world of Plastics
Choose Language