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PVC at the Olympics

The London Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) has published a “Lessons Learned” report analysing the results of its PVC policy. Despite initial reluctance to use PVC containing phthalates, finally over 40,000 m2 were installed, representing more than 30% of the total PVC used in the Olympic Park. The basketball arena, for example, is one of the stadiums that uses phthalate-based PVC.

ODA’s key findings regarding flexible PVC, plasticisers and phthalates

“The PVC policy has focused attention on the use of PVC across the project and highlighted that the functional properties of PVC make it the most appropriate material in certain circumstances. Indeed, high molecular phthalates play a role in creating a longer lifespan to certain products. This includes lift shaft cables, where there is no better alternative product and therefore the longevity of the PVC should be recognised”

“Despite initial concerns about the policy, the plastics industry broadly welcomed the approach. The policy recognised the industry’s voluntary code, Vinyl 2010, and thereby validated products which were meeting this code.”

“The policy was fairly stark in its treatment of phthalates. The industry has consistently advised that there are a range of different phthalates, with variable properties and therefore have different environmental and health effects. This should have been recognised in the policy.”

“The policy did not recognise the potential wider environmental effects of using certain products. Certain products had higher whole life costs and impacts when considering the manufacturing, shipping, fabrication, and installation costs and impacts. It is there additional criteria that have an equal, if not greater impact overall.”