PVC, including flexible applications, possesses inherent sustainability-related characteristics both due its performance and its versatility into affordable applications.
- Made from salt (57%) and a petrochemical (43%), PVC is far less dependent on fossil fuel derived feedstock than other major thermoplastics.
- PVC is extremely durable and cost-efficient due to its low maintenance requirements.
- It is a common material of choice for energy saving insulation.
- At the end of its life, PVC can be recycled without losing its essential properties
- PVC is widely used to fulfill people’s basic needs in products that make life safer, healthier, more sustainable and more comfortable.
- In terms of economic and social welfare, the European PVC industry supports 21,000 businesses and employs over half a million people.
The environmental impact of PVC products has been investigated in numerous studies, quantified in many life cycle analyses (LCA) and compared many times to products made from alternative materials.. Several recent eco-efficiency studies on the most common applications show that, in terms of energy requirements and GWP (Global Warming Potential), PVC is often better and at least equal to alternative products. The PVC industry is constantly striving to improve its production processes and products, investing in technology to minimise emissions, reduce waste and boost collection and recycling. European Plasticisers is part of VinylPlus, the new 10-year sustainability programme of the European PVC industry which builds upon the achievements of Vinyl 2010.
In summary PVC not only stands for Poly Vinyl Chloride but also for:
- Performance – high performance in durable long lasting applications
- Value – highly cost effective and value for money
- Conservation – much less dependent on fossil fuels than other plastics and contributes to resource conservation through its uses and applications (e.g. reflective roofing membranes contributing to energy efficiency of buildings, efficient transfer of electricity via insulating wire and cables, water conservation via use in high integrity and long lasting water pipes).
In addition as a highly versatile material PVC and flexible PVC in particular allows small companies to innovate, be creative and vary their products to a major degree (e.g. through the use of different amounts of plasticisers). SMEs (small medium sized enterprises) are highly active in the PVC sector. All of this adds up to a major contribution to sustainability via all three pillars of the sustainability triangle (Environmental, Societal, Economic).