Disposing of PVC

Title Page
History of PVC
Manufacture of PVC
Producing Chlorine
Producing Ethelyne
Producing PVC
Producing VCM
Disposing of PVC

Once the PVC products have been used they can be disposed of safely by recycling, incineration or burial methods.

  • Recycling can be carried out in two ways; either by sorting the waste plastics by hand or more recently automatically, this is known as Mechanical recycling. Alternatively the polymer can be decomposed at high temperatures and then the chemical components can be recovered and recycled. This second method is known as Feedstock recycling.
  • Incineration reduces the amount of PVC waste going to landfill. Burning of PVC does produce toxic gases such as hydrogen chloride but none are any more toxic than carbon monoxide and PVC produces no more deadly dioxins than say the burning of wood. However, the incinerators are equipped with pollution control equipment to minimize the release of emissions to the environment.
  • Landfill is carried out for the PVC plastics that can not be recycled. Controlled landfill does not cause significant risk to the environment.

To summarise: PVC depletes fossil reserves, and releases toxic gases and dioxins when manufacture and incineration processes. However, PVC can be recycled, it is cheap, is not very flammable and has many uses some of which have helped save lives. These later pros for PVC plastic outweigh the few cons by far.