As we look back on 2023 and enter the new year, the Vinyl Institute (VI) is working hard on domestic and international challenges to protect our industry and quality products. As we face chemical review processes, global debates on the role of plastics, and increasing misinformation from activists, the VI and our members stand ready to defend our many products which are vital to our quality of life.
This past December, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that vinyl chloride – a precursor to PVC - would be one of the next five chemicals selected for prioritization under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). For those unaware, the TSCA risk assessment is carried out to determine whether a chemical substance presents an unreasonable risk to health or the environment. If the EPA decides to regulate vinyl chloride, it may impact downstream vinyl products and manufacturing processes. The VI and our members are fully prepared to partner with the EPA during both prioritization and risk evaluation processes.
Our VI team met with the EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) on January 10, 2024 to reiterate our commitment to collaborate and work with the agency throughout the TSCA process. We are confident that the risk assessment of vinyl chloride will help to clear up any misconceptions or false information about the safety of our products and the production process for vinyl chloride. As new developments unfold during this multi-year evaluation, we will ensure that the VI and our members will have a seat at the table and that this is a scientifically-driven process.
On an international level, the United Nation's Environmental Programme (UNEP) has been deliberating over its Global Plastics Treaty. These conversations are happening amidst a broader effort to curtail global plastic waste – but what began as a conversation on limiting waste has morphed into one filled with proposed production limits or outright bans or restrictions on certain products – including PVC.
In November, the VI sent a delegation to Nairobi, Kenya, for the third session of the discussions on a global plastics treaty. I, along with Domenic DeCaria (the VI’s VP of Regulatory and Technical Affairs) and leaders from the vinyl industry were in Kenya to advocate for our industry and ensure delegates and attendees were aware of how important vinyl is to achieving various UN Sustainable Development Goals. Access to clean water and sanitation is a core UN goal, and PVC is key to helping developing nations expand their water infrastructure. Good health and well-being is another UN goal that is heavily reliant on PVC, since PVC blood bags are the most common type of blood storage and help blood last longer than any other material.
In 2024, the VI will be present at the ensuing meetings in Ottawa, Canada and in Busan, South Korea. We will continue to advocate for the industry and stress that production caps, broad ingredient restrictions, or product bans are the wrong solutions. We will continue to emphasize the benefits – and more importantly, the equity to the developing world – that PVC provides to the global population. As members of the VSI understand, our durable products are in use for decades not in landfills.
In summary, here in the United States, our team will continue to collaborate with EPA to ensure the TSCA review process of vinyl chloride is guided by science. On the international level, we will continue to represent our industry in Ottawa and Busan and ensure that a global plastics treaty will seek equitable solutions to reduce plastic waste (which we all want to mitigate) rather than ban materials that are vital to clean water and health care.
The VI and our members are proud to promote our sustainable industry and defend against misinformation, and we encourage all companies throughout the value chain to join us.