Environmental Considerations

Vinyl Recycling Databases

The Vinyl Institute website offers two comprehensive databases about vinyl and recycling.

Click here for the database of vinyl recycling companies.

Click here for the database of manufacturers of recycled vinyl products.

Environmental Considerations

Recyclability and disposal issues. Scrap created either during the manufacturing and installation process or after a wire and cable system has reached the end of its useful life can be reclaimed and recycled. In fact, a recent study of vinyl-jacketed cables reclaimed from homes after 34 years of use showed very little degradation of elongation, thermal stability and other physical properties. This illustrates the notable resilience of vinyl electrical products to long-term use, leaving such reclaimed material in ideal condition for recycling.

Several companies in the United States and Canada have successful wire and cable recycling programs in place. All of the various materials that make up a wire or cable construction - including metal, plastic and other materials - must be separated in the recycling process. The wires are typically chopped, and the vinyl is then separated from the metal through a process called electrostatic separation, which uses electrical charges to extract the metal from the plastic. Once separated, the vinyl is shredded and recycled into second-generation products such as sound-deadening panels for car doors.

When recycling is not possible, vinyl electrical scrap can also be safely landfilled, staying inert without biodegrading. 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. The study also found no link between vinyl electrical scrap and heavy metal concentrations in landfills.

Indoor/outdoor air quality. Vinyl electrical products have no impact on indoor or outdoor air quality. In fact, vinyl electrical products are typically used underground, behind walls and under floors, so in many applications they do not even reach consumer contact.

Other environmental considerations. Vinyl's durability is an important environmental benefit, because the longer a product lasts, the less energy and other resources must be expended to make replacement products.