Editorial Feature

Vinyl: 10 Key Facts

Vinyl Adds Value to Everyday Life. It contributes to a higher standard of living by making critical products more affordable, more durable and more dependable.

Vinyl is the leading plastic material for the construction market, where it makes products like windows, siding, flooring and pipe more durable and cost-effective. Vinyl requires less maintenance, frequently outlasts competitive materials and often outperforms them, making quality housing more affordable. Vinyl piping systems economically and reliably deliver pure water to even the most remote locations; vinyl irrigation pipe helps increase crop yields; vinyl sewer pipe helps ensure the integrity of wastewater handling systems. Vinyl is the leading plastic used in the medical market; vinyl medical goods and pharmaceutical packaging provide a higher, safer standard of health care while holding down costs. Vinyl's inherent flame retardance has made it the preferred material for many electrical uses and has made electrical service safer and more dependable. Vinyl packaging helps reduce food spoilage and waste.

Vinyl is a Highly Efficient User of Natural Resources

Only 43 percent of vinyl comes from non-renewable petroleum feedstocks. The balance (57 percent) comes from salt. Worldwide vinyl production represents less than 0.3 percent of all annual oil and gas consumption.

Vinyl Saves Resources and Energy Throughout its Lifecycle

For instance, in a study comparing various packaging materials, vinyl was the material with the lowest production energy and carbon dioxide emissions, and the lowest fossil fuel and raw material requirements. In a study of transportation and construction applications, vinyl was one of three plastic materials with the lowest energy requirements, saving more than 34 million BTUs per 1,000 pounds made. In the transportation market, vinyl saves about 1.7 million barrels of oil per year; in construction, it saves about 44.2 million barrels of oil per year.

Vinyl can be Safely Incinerated

In a landmark independent study conducted by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers involving 1,900 test results from 169 large-scale, commercial incinerator facilities throughout the world (including municipal, medical and hazardous waste units), researchers found no significant correlation between the chlorine content of waste and dioxin emissions. Instead, the study stated, incinerator design and operating conditions are the critical factors in dioxin generation and emissions.

Vinyl can be Recycled

An estimated 11.7 million pounds of post-consumer vinyl were recycled in the U.S. in 1997. The industry helped develop the equipment that automatically separates vinyl from other post-consumer plastic packaging, and is supporting efforts to expand recycling for non-packaging waste, such as construction and demolition scrap.

Vinyl Additives Have Been Carefully Researched

Additives used in vinyl are closely regulated by a number of agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food & Drug Administration and the Consumer Products Safety Commission. As to recent concerns linking phthalate plasticizers with the phenomenon of "endocrine disruption," new research indicates that phthalates used with vinyl pose little if any risk of acting as environmental estrogens under real-world conditions.

The Vinyl Lifecycle is a Minor Source of Dioxin Emissions

In the last 25 years, while VCM (vinyl chloride monomer) production has tripled, dioxin measured in environmental samples has decreased between 30 and 80 percent. This lack of correlation between the vinyl lifecycle and dioxin emissions is being confirmed by one of the most extensive dioxin testing programs ever conducted by any industry. That work, sponsored by the Vinyl Institute, based on EPA protocol and subject to independent, third-party review, indicates that vinyl and the vinyl production process likely contribute less than one percent to overall dioxin emissions.

The Vinyl Industry Subscribes to Strict Manufacturing Standards

The manufacture of vinyl, like many other production processes, is closely regulated to minimize its impact on human health and the environment. All air and water emissions resulting from the process are regulated by the US EPA and all companies that manufacture vinyl plastic or vinyl chloride monomer must report their compliance with these standards. The US EPA has estimated that the vinyl industry's VCM emissions have been reduced by over 99 percent since new workplace standards were introduced in the 1970s.

Vinyl's Fire Performance is Well-Known and Well-Tested

Fire death rates have decreased dramatically in recent decades - the same time frame during which vinyl use has increased threefold. Research and studies of real fires continue to indicate that carbon monoxide - produced by virtually anything that burns - is the primary cause of fire deaths, and early detection and suppression of fires are key to reducing death rates further. Vinyl products are inherently flame-retardant due to their chlorine base, do not readily ignite and most will not continue to burn once a flame source is removed. The products of vinyl combustion are no more hazardous than those produced by other materials, both natural and synthetic. Most recently, the official report cleared vinyl as a cause in the April 1996 Düsseldorf Airport fire, citing instead carbon monoxide, other materials and safety violations.

Vinyl is a Time-Tested, Thoroughly Researched Material with a Safe History of use Dating Back over 50 Years

Over the years, the vinyl industry has subjected its products to extensive testing to demonstrate that they are safe to use and it maintains an active testing program to address new standards, as well as new concerns, as they develop. It's also important to note that vinyl products meet a demanding range of health and safety standards established by numerous agencies including the Food & Drug Administration, the National Sanitation Foundation, the National Fire Protection Association, all three model building codes and the Consumer Products Safety Commission.

Source: The Vinyl Institute

For more information on this source please visit The Vinyl Institute

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