Recycling & Disposal Issues
PVC’s inherent durability allows PVC vinyl products to serve long useful lives, preventing waste from being generated when less durable products are used.
As a thermoplastic, it is important to note that all PVC products are recyclable. Recycling facilities across North America accept both post-consumer (i.e., material that has been used for its intended purpose and is being recovered for recycling) and post-industrial (the scrap left over from a product manufacturing process) vinyl scrap. A database of PVC vinyl recyclers and companies manufacturing products from recycled vinyl is available on www.vinylinfo.org.
Many manufacturers make products using recycled PVC content – for instance, some vinyl carpet backing systems are made of 100% recycled materials, representing many tons of vinyl scrap per year that would otherwise go to a landfill. For PVC pipe, recycling is seldom an issue because the product stays on the job almost indefinitely, providing decades of reliable service. Vinyl roofing membranes can be recycled into such second-generation products as speed bumps, parking curbs and asphalt patching material.
If recycling is not economical and PVC scrap must be landfilled, it can be trusted to remain safely inert under normal landfill conditions. PVC is so stable in landfills that vinyl membranes have been used as landfill liners and caps. A recent study conducted by the Vinyl Institute analyzed vinyl scrap under simulated landfill conditions and found that there was little if any degradation of the material.