Is there a future in Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)?
The adverse impact that plastic is having on our environment is well documented in the media. Public awareness and the acknowledgment that it is our responsibility to make a difference has become very apparent. So much plastic lands up on beaches around the world, many animals ingest the plastic and die. Producing and disposing of plastic often leads to the release of dangerous toxins into our environment.
Global demand for polyvinyl chloride, better known as PVC, is over 40 million tonnes a year. The construction industry alone is responsible for 28 million tonnes of this. Houses are built with PVC pipes because they are light, durable and cheap. Therefore, making it suitable for both above and below ground piping. Unfortunately, from manufacturing to disposal, PVC poses problems: It produces carcinogens and dioxins, if burnt it releases deadly hydrogen chloride gas and is seldom recycled. There are manufacturers that operate a very good recycling process, trying to ensure what is returned is reused. Wavin, as an example, have applied Recycore Technology to its new multi-layer, solid-core pipes, made with over 50% recycled content.
Some might argue that HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) coupled with Aquatherm is a more environmentally friendly solution than PVC. HDPE does not contain BPA, Phthalates, heavy metals or allergens. It is the most environmentally stable of all plastics – giving off no harmful fumes to the environment. Aquatherm Green Pipes are environmentally friendly because they contain Fusiolen PP-R, which is recyclable and can be ground, melted and reutilised for various applications. There are no polluting substances with PP-R either in its processing or in its disposal. HDPE, at present, is used more for the commercial market; specifically high rise buildings but given the environmental benefits to this, the question should be asked could it move into the residential market too?
While HDPE and Aquatherm have many benefits, they come with their own issues, electricity has to be used for installation and it would take a long time to degrade if placed in landfill.
Until HDPE and Aquatherm are used by a wider audience, PVC plumbing goods will still remain the most used solution for house builds irrelevant of their effect on the environment. Public awareness has increased, in time this will filter through to the building trade and the use of products with a smaller environmental footprint will become mainstream.
At PVC Building Supplies, we stock not only PVC but also HDPE and Aquatherm ensuring you have the choice of the best material for you and your project.