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WHAT IS POLYVINYL CHLORIDE (PVC)?

PVC is one of oldest thermoplastic polymers in the world and most widely used and thoroughly tested plastics in the world. During the manufacturing process, chlorine is obtained from ordinary salt and is chemically combined with ethylene, which is derived from coal in South Africa. 

Applications range long-life applications such as water pipes, window and door frames, flooring, cables and accessories, to sport equipment, lifesaving medical devices and packaging. There are three forms of PVC, namely rigid, flexible and liquid. The rigid and flexible variants are by far the most common form and have various applications in a number of industries. 

Rigid PVC is used to manufacture irrigation pipes, conduit, gutters, pharmaceutical bottles and fridge magnets. Flexible PVC is used to produce drip bags, electrical insulation, vehicle dashboard skins, gumboots, safety gloves, garden hoses and packaging films. 

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The Benefits of using PVC

PVC is always compounded with additives to give it a range of properties, such as rigidity, flexibility, fire resistance and liquidity. Versatile Vinyl is popular plastic material because of its numerous advantageous properties:

  • PVC has excellent resistance to wear and tear – making it ideal for products that need to withstand hard usage over many years.
  • It is lightweight, cost-effective and requires little energy to manufacture.
  • This plastic is inherently flame-resistant and is impermeable to liquids.
  • Around 80% of vinyl is used for products that last for between 15 and 100 years. This long life means vinyl is one of the smallest pollutants with small volumes found in landfill and virtually none in waterways or the marine environment.
  • Studies show that vinyl does not pollute soil and groundwater and does not contribute to toxic leachate in landfill because it doesn’t degrade in landfill.

Abundant feedstock

Sea salt is the source of chlorine in vinyl and over 50% of PVC’s feedstock is derived from salt – an abundantly available resource. This means that vinyl consumes proportionately less non-renewable fossil fuels.

Relatively low energy content

PVC has a lower feedstock energy compared to other polymers which derived from hydrocarbons as well as many other common building materials. This contributes to the relatively low embodied energy in vinyl products compared to other traditional plastic products.

Material efficiencies

PVC contributes to reduced material consumption in some of the core building and infrastructure applications. For example, high pressure pipes made from oriented vinyl (PVC-O) pipes have up to 50% thinner walls while maintaining the same pressure compared to traditional vinyl pipes or alternatives.

Thermal efficiencies

PVC windows, doors, cladding and wall profiles help reduce the transfer of heat – making them an excellent choice in energy-efficient buildings.

Design for durability

90% of vinyl applications are designed for medium or long-term use. Vinyl is resistant to weather, chemical rotting, corrosion, shock and abrasion.

Low maintenance

Vinyl products such as flooring, wall coverings and windows require very little maintenance, presenting environmental and economic benefits. They do not require painting or varnishing, while abrasion and impact are not likely to damage vinyl.

Importantly in the building and construction industry, vinyl is lightweight and easy to install in most of its applications. These factors offer occupational safety advantages over some traditional materials. With a high resistance to impact, vinyl does not splinter, rot or crack reducing the opportunities for accidental injury

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