Feature Article

The PVC Debate: A Fresh Look

PVC is banned by some green building programs and simply reviled by some groups. How did we get here, and has anything changed since vinyl became the enemy?

February 3, 2014

“Poison Plastic,” “Toxic Plastic,” or “Pandora’s Poison”: There is no shortage of unsavory monikers used to describe polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and the vinyl products made from it.

Few materials have been vilified as much as PVC, which has come under fire by the green building community over the last twenty years for containing hazardous materials and releasing toxic chemicals during manufacture, use, and disposal. All the while, the PVC industry, buoyed by incredible demand for the material, argues that complaints are exaggerated and emphasizes that it is made from “common salt”—implying that it is harmless.