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Extrusion 6-2023


Extrusion 6-2023


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Broad alliance launched for PVC alternatives

Broad alliance launched for PVC alternatives


Prof. Dr. Michael Braungart was awarded the Honorary Prize of the German Sustainability Award just last fall and has long been regarded as a thought leader in eco-design, waste avoidance and the circular economy. With his Environmental Protection Encouragement Agency (EPEA for short), founded more than 30 years ago, he co-founded the Cradle-To-Cradle concept with William McDonough. The concept includes a continuous and consistent cycle management. It describes the safe and basically infinite circulation of materials and nutrients in cycles. What for the biosphere means the biological decomposition of the individual product components that are returned to nature - as in complete composting, for example - means complete recycling into new products for industry and the technosphere. As a result, products and production processes should not only be less harmful to people and nature, but also have a positive effect.

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Sebastian Wendel (l.) and Céline Quervel, Classen, with Prof. Dr. Michael Braungart from Epea Internationale Umweltforschung GmbH. © Classen

Braungart has long been concerned about harmful PVC. In a preliminary interim summary of the cooperation with the CLASSEN Group, he refers to all the facts already known about the toxicity for humans and the environment during production, use and disposal, as well as the enormous consumption of energy and resources and the almost impossible recycling of PVC. At the EU level, a ban on PVC in interior spaces has been under discussion at least since the publication of the Ramboll study in 2022. Not only for this reason, the search for alternatives that are not only pollutant-free but also completely recyclable is in full swing. The flooring industry is particularly affected by this. For Europe alone, approximately 190 million square meters of vinyl flooring containing PVC were produced in 2022. That's equivalent to about 32,000 soccer fields - year after year. About half of the approximately 1.2 million tons of material comes from China. Material whose subsequent disposal poses a variety of environmental and health risks. This documents the urgency of establishing alternative materials.

For this reason, Braungart is forging ahead with its cooperation with the CLASSEN Group, whose polypropylene-based CERAMIN® material meets all the requirements for establishing a suitable alternative to harmful PVC floor and wall coverings. Not only are products made of CERAMIN® at least equal in terms of material properties such as robustness, moisture resistance, design diversity and ease of processing, but unlike PVC they are completely safe for health and the environment, completely recyclable and consist to a high degree of PP recyclates already during production. For this reason, the products also have a much smaller carbon footprint and reduce energy consumption many times over through the use of recyclates in production.

From the point of view of the parties involved, the aim of the strategic cooperation is not only to establish healthy CERAMIN® coverings in the construction and flooring industry. To this end, the CLASSEN Group will promote networking with other market partners, also with the support of Braungart EPEA. In addition, a broad alliance is to be forged, which is to be joined by other companies that have consciously decided or are deciding against the use of PVC applications. Braungart calls for "a rethinking of the use of PVC. The problems must be communicated and knowledge multiplied. Innovative solutions and alternatives, such as CLASSEN's products represent an important reference point in this process." According to his conviction, this requires "an association of players who are willing to ban PVC from their products, services and processes." Companies in the construction, electronics and packaging sectors are particularly in focus. "Since supply chains and the proliferation of PVC are global in scope, it seems beneficial to the cause to include global perspectives. With CLASSEN as the initiator of such a network, opportunities for new sales markets will open up," concludes Braungart.


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