Industrial metabolism of PVC in China: A dynamic material flow analysis

In China, the rapid development of the polyvinylchloride (PVC) industry will inevitably lead to various environmental problems. This paper studies the PVC metabolism further by (1) constructing dynamic models based on material flow analysis (MFA), (2) introducing calculation on detailed lifetime distribution of different types of products and recycling, and (3) obtaining the performances of waste emissions and accumulation as a function of raw material input and time. Based on system evolution theory and population development models, the developing trend of the PVC industry is studied, and annual consumptions in future years are predicted. The annual emission and accumulation after metabolism can be calculated by tracking the amount of raw material input, existing form and process flow for a single year (2003), as well as over a longer period (from 1958 to 2048) in China. Analysis indicates that over 0.6 billion tons of PVC waste will have accumulated in the environment by the end of 2050. In this scenario analysis, the effects of product structure, lifetime distribution, mechanical recycling, chemical recycling and incineration on waste output are all taken into consideration. The product metabolism process can be decelerated by changing these factors appropriately. However, mechanical recycling and chemical recycling are the most effective solutions.