Blog Post

Recycled Decking Manufacturers Launch Virgin PVC Options

In the BuildingGreen Suite we have a Discussions feature on just about every page that allows members to respond to content with their comments and questions. There was a brief exchange the other day in response to a November 2007 Environmental Building News piece titled "Recycled Decking Manufacturers Launch Virgin PVC Options." Excerpts from that article:
In a series of developments that may signal trouble for the composite decking industry, two industry leaders, TimberTech and Trex Company, appear to be hedging their bets by introducing new product lines made of virgin PVC... Although both Trex and TimberTech cite consumer benefits for their new PVC products, the Healthy Building Network's Tom Lent has a different view. "I consider these moves a disaster environmentally," he said, adding that the health and environmental effects of the PVC life cycle should also be considered when looking at these decking products. Compared to the use of recycled plastics in composite decking, Lent said, the PVC decking "is a big step backwards."
A reader spoke up:
I thought the movement was away from PVC as there seem to be lots of questions as to its actual green characteristics. Any comment on that?
To a lot of us, the answer is clear and immediate... but like so much of what we're all dealing with in this green pursuit, the closer you get to the cut-and-dried answer, the wigglier things start to look.
Re: PVC? Posted by Mark Piepkorn on Nov 1, 2007, 08:14 AM There are a lot of questions about PVC, primarily stemming from its manufacture and disposal—the worst disposal case (sidestepping the problem of plastics in landfills) being incomplete combustion, whether by accidental fire or improper incineration. During its useful life, PVC is generally considered benign. (We similarly avoid listing epoxy- and polycarbonate-based products in GreenSpec due to the use of endocrine-disrupting, bioaccumulating bisphenol-A as a chemical precursor in the manufacturing process... though those products can also provide excellent service during their useful lives.) As noted in the article, it's troubling that these manufacturers are throwing their hats into the virgin PVC ring. But, put simply, they wouldn't be doing it if they thought there wasn't a market. Like one of the corporate reps said in the piece, "We want to offer people products, whatever their needs are." Pretty telling, as statements go. Continuing marketplace and professional education are needed, along with continued study of the conflicting data and opinions. It remains a complicated and contentious ongoing issue. See "USGBC Releases Final Report on PVC Avoidance" from our March 2007 issue of Environmental Building News.
I'm not sure if my response was adequate. You tell me. Also see "What USGBC's PVC Report Means for GreenSpec" from Environmental Building News; and from the Healthy Building Network, the recent article "Schwarzenegger Bans PVC Additive In Toys."

Published November 3, 2007

(2007, November 3). Recycled Decking Manufacturers Launch Virgin PVC Options. Retrieved from

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