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Media Statement

For immediate release
16 August 2000

Greenpeace muddled-headedness adds $16 million to cost of the Games

"Greenpeace has shown its usual muddled-headedness in recent comments about the use of PVC building facilities for the Sydney Olympics", Vinyl Council of Australia's Executive Director, Rob Faulkner said today.

He was commenting on Greenpeace’s final "Olympics Report Card", published yesterday.  The environmental pressure group praised Olympics authorities for avoiding PVC in some applications and criticised them for using it in others.

A PVC minimisation clause was written into the Sydney Olympics' environmental guidelines by Greenpeace and accepted by authorities in return for Greenpeace's support for the Sydney bid .  Unfortunately, Greenpeace's demands added significantly to the cost of building the facilities.  This is the finding of a study by the respected consultant, BIS Shrapnel.
Greenpeace gave the Government an “A-“ for reducing PVC in the Athletes’ Village.  But according to BIS Shrapnel’s Senior Project Manager, Ross Trewartha, that added millions to the cost.

"Our study shows that reducing the use PVC in the Athletes’ Village added about $5 million to the cost of construction ", Mr Trewartha said.
The BIS Shrapnel report finds the total additional cost of using alternatives to PVC throughout the Games was more than $16 million.

Unfortunately, these costs were incurred for no net environmental gain.  A report by the CSIRO found "the adverse environmental effects of using PVC in building products are very small, and no greater than those for other materials".

This was recognised by the Government in 1997 when the Minister for Public Works, Carl Scully, stated:  "PVC is a proven material which has contributed much to the community in performance and economy.  The CSIRO's recent report confirms its environmental profile is sound".

In June 2000, fourteen peak industry bodies wrote of the Greenpeace-inspired restriction on PVC in the Sydney Olympics: " ... the experience of the PVC industry shows how such pressures can harm an industry even when the good reputation of the product is well established.  A PVC minimisation guideline was adopted for the Sydney 2000 Olympics at the behest of an environmental group, without consultation with relevant scientific experts or the building industry.  Application of the guideline has added significantly to the cost of facilities, and has imposed potentially long term damage on the Australian industry.  The poor scientific basis for the guideline was confirmed (by the CSIRO report).”

"The replacement of PVC pipe alone added $15 million to the cost of building the Sydney Olympics”, Mr Faulkner said.  “There is not one study we know of which shows that there was the slightest environmental benefit achieved by this, and many that show the contrary. It is a pity the people of NSW have to bear the cost!"

Well done Greenpeace!  A+  for dogged determination, but F- for scientific integrity.

“No wonder Greenpeace membership world-wide is falling while usage of PVC continues to grow.  World PVC consumption has grown by 25% since 1994, while Greenpeace membership has fallen by 40% in the same period ", Mr Faulkner concluded.

For further information contact: Rob Faulkner, 03 9368 4857, 0419 308 305; Jacquelynne Willcox Bailey at Abbott Consulting Group;  02 93348444, 0419833649.

Or visit the Council’s website at www.vinyl.org.au

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