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Sustainability of PVC

Benefits of PVC

There are a lot of scare stories across all media types regarding PVC in manufacturing. We are actively trying to promote the fair and impartial representation of Plastic and have found some great sources of information.

Dr Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace talks about the benefits of PVC:

PVC in Construction

"Plastics have a huge role to play in sustainable construction, whether it be PVC windows, plastic foam insulation or plastic water pipes.

Plastics pipes use less energy to produce than concrete or iron and since lightweight they save on transport costs and emissions in the building industry. Furthermore, the replacement of Victorian pipes in London, with new plastic pipes reduces leaks and saves significant amounts of water with consequent savings in the energy required to process and pump the water."

BPF summarise:

  • PVC is a safe material
  • PVC is a socially valuable resource
  • PVC does not need to be replaced or phased out'

The British Plastics Federation

PVC Pipes

"PVC pipes have been used for more than 60 years and show that they have very long-lasting material properties. PVC pipes are lighter than other materials and easy to install.

Once installed, they require minimal or no maintenance and upkeep. PVC pipes are strong, yet flexible enough to bend without breaking, allowing them to endure earth movement. PVC pipes offer a projected life span of more than 100 years without any loss in strength. Experience has demonstrated that PVC pipes help reduce leakage. PVC also is compatible with all other materials used in pipe networks and therefore ensures a secure interface is maintained.

PVC pipes at the end of their life are collected and easily recycled and used in new products. Not only can PVC be recycled and reused but its material properties remain intact through several use phases.

PVC Pipes have an excellent cost-price performance connected directly with their low maintenance and low installation costs, long life-span and efficient waste management"

Environmental Sustainability

"Plastics have a very good environmental profile. Only 4% of the world's oil production is used for plastics and much less energy is used to produce it compared to other materials. Plastics are durable yet lightweight and thus save weight in cars, aircraft, packaging and pipework.

When plastics have completed their use phase, whether as a car bumper or a bottle, they can either be recycled or if this is not economic or environmentally beneficial the calorific value of the plastic can be recovered through energy from waste incineration to provide a much source of home-grown power. As a consequence plastics can be viewed as 'borrowing' the oil."


Life Cycle Analysis

PVC's impacts on the environment are comparable to or lower than most alternatives. A 2004 study of environmental life-cycle analyses (LCAs) of PVC and competing building materials by the European Commission (EC) found that PVC offers environmental benefits equal to or better than those of other materials in many applications. The USGBC PVC Task Group reached similar conclusions in its draft report issued December 2004.

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