Polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, is one of the most widely used polymers in the world.
It was first produced commercially in the late 1920s after additives were blended into this mixture to create a plastic which quickly became popular for its flexible, durable and cost-effective qualities.
Today, about 37 million tonnes of PVC are produced worldwide, of which around 5,5 million tonnes are made in Europe – making PVC Europe's third most popular plastic.
PVC brings important benefits to products and applications in areas as diverse as construction, automobile manufacturing, medical devices, electronics and electrical equipment, packaging and fashion.
Whether it is rigid or flexible, PVC helps to make cars lighter and resistant against corrosion, it enables windows to last longer, allows fresh water delivery through the use of durable piping, and stores blood to save and improve people's lives. Vinyl applications can perform effectively for much longer than alternative materials .
Their life-span can range from 30 to 100 years in the case of cables, pipes and window profiles. In addition, PVC products need minimal maintenance, and hence very limited additional consumption of energy, raw materials and chemicals is necessary to ensure their continued functionality. As a result, PVC has the advantage of remaining in use for a long period before it enters into the waste chain.
When it reaches its end of life, PVC can be recycled. In fact, PVC has the longest history of recycling amongst plastics and the most advanced level of mechanical recycling..
The PVC value chain is engaged in the research and development of new formulations to ensure maximum safety and protection of the environment and the health of users and consumers.
Concerning PVC cables, a study conducted by the University of Catalonia, Spain, showed that the cable that had the best results in terms of energy consumption and CO₂ emission was insulated with PVC.
PVC cables are recyclable and successfully recycled. Thanks to the collection and recycling schemes set up in the framework of Vinyl 2010 and VinylPlus, PVC recycling from cables reached 127,214 tonnes in 2016 from nearly zero in 2000.