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Renewi has been nominated by @Trends for the Trends Impact Awards in the Resilience category

05 September 2022

The Trends Impact Awards aim at awarding Belgian companies that implement (or have implemented) strategies that generate a positive impact and create sustainable value.

Renewi has submitted the VinylPlusMed project for the award nomination.

Some background information on this project:

What is the project about? What are the key objectives? What is the expected impact of the project?

VinylPlus® Med is a joint project that aims to accelerate sustainability within the Belgian healthcare sector. This is to be achieved by recycling single-use PVC medical devices (such as hoses, bags, masks) into long-lasting products for use in hospitals (including floor and wall coverings and rehabilitation items). 

The healthcare sector contributes to 5.5% of the Belgian carbon footprint. Single-use medical devices are a major contributor to the carbon footprint of this sector. Belgium committed itself during COP26 to achieve a net-zero carbon healthcare by 2050.

PVC is the most widely used plastic for medical applications (9.9 kt/year in 2020); 84 % of this waste goes to incineration. However, PVC can be recycled 8-10 times without loss of quality. Medical devices made from PVC actually often have just a single layer of PVC and are therefore very suitable for environmentally friendly mechanical recycling. Recycling 1 ton of PVC saves 2 tons of CO2 emissions. 

Recycling increasing volumes of non-risk medical waste (NRMA) leads to elimination of economic and environmental costs of incineration. Moreover, it saves raw materials and energy, and reduces environmental costs associated with the production of raw materials for hospital products.

Who will benefit most from the project? Who are the main stakeholders and interested parties? Are you working with partners to realize the project, who are these parties and how do they contribute?

Through optimal sorting and recycling of NRMA, the ecological impact of hospitals can be reduced. Through free participation in the project, the hospitals can also substantially reduce their operating costs. The cost for the hospitals to treat the NRMA varies between 200 and 300 Euro/ton. These ecological and economic benefits match the objectives of the regional subsidizing authorities.

The project brings together Belgian hospitals, Renewi, Raff Plastics and VinylPlus®. All parties are committed to achieve a sustainable development of the European PVC sector. Working together in the value chain is a critical success factor for making the circular economy a reality.

Renewi Belgium provides logistical support (i.e. transport, storage). Renewi makes sure that the project is well integrated in existing waste management procedures and takes care of the delivery of the waste containers.

Raff Plastics performs the final sorting of the NRMA and converts the NRMA into raw material compliant with the Reach legislation. It also selects the hospital applications in which the waste is to be recycled, and ensures that quality and traceability controls are applied according to the European EuCertPlast certification.

VinylPlus manages the project and provides the collection and information material, training and coaching of the hospital staff, external communication and funding.

Where will the project take place? What is the geographical scope of the project?

The project is aimed at all Belgian hospitals. The collection will effectively take place in Brussels and Wallonia but we also intend to carry it out in Flanders.

When will the project take place? When did it start and when will it end? Explain the timeline of the project and indicate in which phase the project is now and what the effects are in the short and long term.

The project officially started in October 2021 with the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement between Renewi Belgium, Raff Plastics and VinylPlus. The project is currently in the start-up phase. Collection is currently taking place in 6 hospitals in Brussels and Wallonia. A further 36 hospitals have expressed their interest in participating in the project.

How does the project generate the expected impact? How will the project achieve its objectives?

The expected impact can be generated if a sufficient volume of PVC is collected by the hospitals. We estimate that approximately 10 tons of PVC can be recycled per year per hospital. The recycling of 1000 tons/year seems a realistic objective in time. This will lead to an annual saving of 2000 tons of CO² emission across the Belgian care sector.

How is the project integrated in your company's business model and how is the project perceived and supported by your company?

For Renewi Belgium, the VinylPlus® Med project proves once again that recycling is the growth engine of a circular economy: there are still so many materials that are not being recycled, and that is where the growth potential lies. Being circular and innovative is something you have to do together. Chain partnerships are crucial in the transition to a circular economy. We are therefore very proud to be part of this sustainable project where previously discarded PVC now gets a second life.

For Raff Plastics, projects like VinylPlus® Med are important, because we believe that everything starts with good enameling. We believe that unfortunately there are still many materials that could be recycled, but due to unfavorable circumstances are burned or dumped. The VinylPlus® Med project ensures that everyone becomes aware and committed to working together for the renewal of raw materials.

The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of disposable medical plastics in preventing and controlling infections in hospitals. However, the strong increase in demand for these disposable materials has also increased the challenges associated with waste management. VinylPlus has therefore decided to help Belgian hospitals. After all, PVC is the most widely used plastic in healthcare. Moreover, PVC medical waste is usually non-risky and can be recycled by proper sorting and collection. It seemed a good idea to improve the recyclability of PVC in this crucial sector with the launch of VinylPlus® Med in Belgium.