PVC: Recycling Killer, Public Health Menace

What’s so bad about PVC?

GRRN | PVC | back

Lots. For extensive information on the environmental, human health and economic impacts of polyvinyl chloride — commonly known as "PVC" or "vinyl” and chemically known as (C2H3Cl)n — see the list below of additional links. GRRN’s PVC pages feature information on the myth of PVC recycling.

  Message in a Bottle: PVC Recycling is a myth

A report issued by GRRN [pdf] provides evidence that PVC bottles and labels threaten the PET bottle recycling infrastructure and the continued development of bottle-to-bottle PET recycling. There is no equipment available that will remove 100% of PVC from PET bottles and at PET’s melt temperature, PVC burns destroying the surrounding PET and harming the processing equipment. Separating PVC bottles is costly because they make up only 2% of the bottles manufactured in the United States. Yet that same 2% of the bottle stream creates major problems for PET recyclers.

Furthermore, a recent report [pdf 1.3MB] from Tufts University cites that vinyl chloride, the building block of PVC resin, has been classified as a human carcinogen. PVC production has been found to expose workers and surrounding communities to vinyl chloride and several studies have documented links between working in vinyl chloride production facilities and the increased likelihood of developing diseases including angiosarcoma of the liver and other non-cancer disorders. Additives mixed with PVC resins such as stabilizers, plasticizers, and fillers can leach out of a PVC product during its useful life posing public health hazards, including the development of reproductive problems in children.

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