PVC – a Sustainable Material
PVC is a modern, tried-and-tested and innovative material that is continually undergoing further development.
About 57% of PVC is chlorine, which is produced by electrolysis of local rock salt. As a result, PVC uses comparatively few non-renewable, fossil raw materials in its production. Over the last 30 years, not only has the environmental friendliness of PVC been thoroughly investigated, the production process through to the finished product has been optimized from an ecological point of view. Using a wide range of individual measures, the consumption of resources has been minimized and emissions drastically reduced.
There are life cycle assessments in place in some important areas in which PVC is now used. They show that PVC does as well as other materials, if not better. Around 70% of PVC is used for durable items in the construction sector and there are recycling options for many applications.
Tried and Tested
PVC is a thoroughly studied, safe and long-established plastic and is therefore used for medical equipment, in food packaging and drinking water pipes, among other applications. PVC products are largely easy to look after and low-maintenance.
Material with a Future
As a versatile and sustainable material, PVC offers ideal properties for many challenges in today’s world and for the future. Some mega trends are particularly significant for PVC: the world population is growing and needs living space, infrastructure, transport and medical products. With globalization, incomes and living standards are increasing for a growing, worldwide middle class. Urbanization and mega cities require more efficient, cost-effective construction that saves on resources and an intelligent and sustainable public infrastructure. And last but not least, climate change is presenting the world with unforeseen challenges. In all these areas, PVC can make a valuable contribution.
Six Sustainability Arguments in Favor of PVC
Around 16% of the plastic processed throughout the world is PVC. That makes it one of the most important materials in industry and trade. Replacing PVC with other materials would cost around 6.5 billion euros a year in Germany (forecast). This money can be used elsewhere, to solve ecologically or socially important problems.
Production and processing of PVC require comparatively few raw materials and little energy. Moreover, PVC products in the construction sector are durable, low-maintenance and therefore environmentally friendly. There are various recycling options for the biggest PVC applications, such as window profiles, pipes, floor coverings and roof sheeting. As far as possible, the PVC is reused in the original areas of application.
PVC products can be adapted to be weather-resistant, oil-resistant, UV-resistant, flexible or impact-resistant. The material can therefore be used in a wide variety of applications with high quality requirements. According to the German parliament’s commission of inquiry “Protection of human beings and the environment”, PVC is now the most thoroughly investigated material there is from the point of view of its environmental relevance.
PVC is less flammable than most other materials and is therefore an element in fire safety.
There are no health risks for employees or consumers associated with the production and processing of PVC today. PVC is therefore used for medical equipment, in food packaging and drinking water pipes, among other applications.
In view of its ecological and economic characteristics, PVC is a material with high growth rates throughout the world. The PVC industry is therefore one of Germany’s growth areas. That creates new jobs and training places in the industry.