Poly(vinyl chloride), PVC, is the third-most widely produced polymer, after polyethylene and polypropylene.
PVC comes in two basic forms: rigid (sometimes abbreviated as RPVC) and flexible. The rigid form of PVC is used in construction for pipe, and in profile applications such as doors and windows. It is also used for bottles and other non-food packaging, and cards (such as bank or membership cards). It can be made softer and more flexible by the addition of plasticers, the most widely used being phthalates. In this form, it is also used in plumbing, electrical cable insulation, imitation leather, signage, inflatable products and many applications where it replaces rubber
Unfortunately, its production, use, anddisposal create persistent toxic pollution, including dioxin. Dioxins are produced at many points in the making of PVC, and additional dioxins are produced if PVC burns, either during garbage incineration or in structure or automobile fires.
Workers involved in making PVC or its basic ingredients are exposed to vinyl chloride, another known human carcinogen, and chemicals from PVC production have contaminated groundwater near several plants. Lead and other heavy metals are sometimes used as a stabilizer or to impart other properties to PVC plastic, and phthalates are used as plasticizers. Because of these additives, recycling is nearly impossible for most PVC products and interferes with the recycling of other plastics.
There are many alternatives to PVC. Companies, councils and governments have already started to move away from the poison plastic.