With an aim to work towards the sustainable production and consumption of PVC products in Thailand, we used effective tools such as life cycle assessment (LCA) and material flow analysis (MFA) to assess the environmental impacts and to study the flows of targeted PVC products including pipe, cable, hose, floor covering, shoes, etc. in Thailand. In the first phase of the study, an LCA study was conducted on PVC pipes and fittings covering all life cycle stages from raw materials, resin production, pipe & fitting production, usage and end-of-life or disposal phase. Various disposal and waste management scenarios currently used to treat solid wastes in Thailand including landfill, recycle, incineration were investigated and evaluated in terms of the environmental performance. The relevant input-output data (raw materials used, energy consumption, utilities, and emissions to air, water and soil) were collected from major manufacturers in Thailand based on the functional unit (a set of 18 mm and 55 mm PVC pipes and fittings). The LCA methodology used in this study was based on ISO 14040 and 14044 frameworks.
The LCA results obtained were used as guidance for the second phase of the study where MFA was used to investigate the flows of PVC pipes using LCA concept covering production, consumption and disposal phases. The production data were gathered from 1971 to the present. The average service life of PVC products studied was determined by a committee with the supporting data from industries. The life-cycle based MFA model was developed and used togenerate the outflows (tons) of PVC pipes based on input data (1971 to present).
The results showed that nearly 130,000 tons/year of PVC post-consumer wastes have been generated. There search team also visited almost 20 waste management sites in Thailand covering all parts of the whole country. From this attempt, the data regarding disposal and waste treatment of PVC products could be gathered and analysed for the amount of recycled PVC wastes and, ultimately, the recycling rate of the PVC products could be determined.
The results that will be presented at the conference are the summary of the five-year works (since 2014 onwards). Moreover, the results from the study have already been used to gain some environmental improvements of the management of PVC pipes in Thailand.