As a reminder from our last newsletter: it is estimated that the global annual production capacity of PVC will reach 40.33 million tons in 2007, with total consumption of 34.39 million tons.

In the late 80s, PVC recycling was promoted by the industry in order to make it more acceptable to the public and to prevent government action to limit PVC production and use.

Unfortunately, PVC recycling is not the answer. The amount of PVC products that are recycled is negligible, with estimates ranging from only 0.1% to 3%. PVC is very difficult to recycle because of the many different formulations used to make PVC products. Its composition varies because of the many additives used to make PVC products. When these different formulations of PVC are mixed together, they cannot readily be separated which is necessary to recycle the PVC into its original formulation. It’s also virtually impossible to create a formulation that can be used for a specific application. PVC can never be truly recycled into the same quality material—it usually ends up being made into lower quality products with less stringent requirements such as park benches or speed bumps.

When PVC products are mixed in with the recycling of non-chlorinated plastics, such as in the “all-bottle” recycling programs favoured by the plastics industry, they contaminate the entire recycling process. Although other types of non-chlorine plastics make up more than 95% of all plastic bottles, introducing only one PVC bottle into the recycling process can contaminate 100,000 bottles, rendering the entire stock unusable for making new bottles or products of similar quality.