PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride or Vinyl)


Companies Phase Out PVC Use»
Maine Waste Burn Barrel Ban»
Microsoft Phases Out PVC Packaging»
Milliken Carpet Goes PVC Free in 1986»
NY Green Building Tax Credit Excludes PVC»
NY PVC Pipe Restriction Law»
PVC Softeners Removed from Baby Products»
Rahway NJ PVC Food Container Ban»
SC Johnson Eliminates PVC Packaging»
Shaw Industries Exits from PVC Carpet Backing»
Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works Phase Out PVC»

This 2005 list records the companies that have committed to the phase out of PVC plastic.

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In 2001, Maine passed a law to reduce dioxin releases by banning open burning of municipal solid waste in burn barrels. It also established a state policy to reduce dioxin and mercury and spurred a state study on diverting PVC waste away from incineration.

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Original Legislation

This is the original bill before it was amended due to chemical industry opposition. For instance, the sections to set up a statewide dioxin-free procurement program and fund household hazardous waste and PVC collection programs were removed in the final law.

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State Bulletin on Dioxin Emissions

This 2001 state news bulletin describes the new law and states, “Dioxin pollution causes legislators to ban open burning of waste.”

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State Poster on Dioxin Emissions and Waste Burning

This 2001 state poster states, ”Burning trash to save a few dollars isn’t worth the price of your family’s health. It’s downright dangerous to breathe that smoke.”

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State Report on Household Hazardous Waste & PVC

In the 2001 Household Hazardous Waste report, the state identified PVC as a problem waste to be separately collected and diverted away from incineration to landfills (if not recycled).

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State Report on Toxic Reduction Plan

This State Planning Office Study Committee 2003 report found “substantial support for efforts that would result in the diversion of PVC plastic away from incineration.”

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Precautionary PVC Policy Paper

This 2003 position paper by the Environmental Health Strategy Center, titled “Dioxin Pollution Prevention & PVC Plastic In Municipal Waste Stream: Precautionary State Policy,” provides an overview of the problem and solutions.

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This 2005 release by Microsoft states that the company has stopped using PVC clamshell packs on its products in favor of more eco-friendly alternatives and notes it was “a move the company took with the help of partners such as the Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ).” It includes an interview with Microsoft’s packaging and legal staff and Lois Gibbs, CHEJ Executive Director.

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Microsoft Asks Retailers to Stop Using PVC Packaging

This 2005 memo from Microsoft’s Senior Manager asks retailers to stop using PVC when repackaging any of the company’s products “in order to maintain a positive environmental course of action,” and explains its reasons, including environmental hazards, regulatory issues and retailer acceptance.

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Milliken Carpet committed to eliminate PVC 19 years ago in 1986. As a result, more than 757 million pounds of PVC were removed from the production and disposal cycle. The company maintains the world’s largest textile research facility encouraging green innovations and notes in this 2005 memo that, “Changing chemistries from a PVC backing was the right step environmentally and it challenged Milliken to develop more sustainable innovations.”

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A NY law created the Green Building Tax Credit in 2000 to provide financial incentives for building with environmentally friendly materials. The program improves the national Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) standards by excluding the eligibility of PVC flooring for a tax credit.

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Summary of Green Tax Credits

This memo by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation briefly summarizes the Green Building Tax law.

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State Regulations

These are the state regulations implementing the Green Building Tax Credit law.

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NYS Attorney General Successfully Defends Green Tax Credits

This 2003 News Release from Attorney General (AG) Eliot Spitzer announced that PVC manufacturers had withdrawn their lawsuit challenging the state’s first-in-the-nation “green building” tax credit program for construction materials. The PVC industry sued the state in 2002 for not providing tax credits to PVC flooring and withdrew the lawsuit one week prior to opening arguments.

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State Scientist Affidavit on PVC Health Risks

This Affidavit by a Senior Public Health Scientist at the AG’s Office describes health threats associated with the PVC lifecycle. Healthy Building Network (HBN) compiled the extensive material submitted by the AG’s Office and issued it as “Vinyl Under Oath,” a PDF file compact disc that can be obtained by contacting HBN at http://www.healthybuilding.net

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Environmental Groups News Release & Article

Citizens’ Environmental Coalition and Healthy Building Network issued a News Release and the Legislative Gazette published an article about the 2003 lawsuit victory.

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New York enacted the first state law restricting the use of polyvinyl chloride (PVC or vinyl) and other plastic pipes. The law expired in 2005. In 2004, reauthorizing legislation passed the Assembly and Senate, but was vetoed by Governor George Pataki, who came under intense pressure from the chemical industry.

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Firefighters Support Alternatives to PVC Pipes

The Uniformed Fire Officers Association wrote the Governor in support of reauthorizing the law in 2004 and noted that, “Dozens of our members have died, and many are still suffering from health effects after being exposed to the byproducts of combustion from the PVC-laden 100 tons of PVC wire sheathing New York Telephone company fire in 1975.”

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Environmental & Labor Coalition Supports Law

This December 2004 News Release was issued by a coalition of environmental and labor groups protesting the Governor’s veto of reauthorizing legislation. Also included is a Memo of Support and fact sheet by Citizens’ Environmental Coalition.

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Advertisement on Dangers of PVC Plastic

A NY plumbers union placed this ad in a state capital newspaper to educate policymakers about PVC health risks. It states, “Should NY let the chemical companies make the rules? That’s like letting the fox guard the henhouse. The use of PVC plastic in buildings puts everyone in danger.”

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News Articles

The statewide effort to reauthorize the law received a significant amount of media attention in 2004, including articles in Buffalo News and industry journal Plastics News.

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Federal Commission Removes Phthalates in Teethers

In 1998, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reached a voluntary agreement with manufacturers to remove two phthalates from rattles, teethers, pacifiers and baby bottle nipples. This News Release describes why the agency “as a precaution” asked companies to remove these chemicals, which are used in polyvinyl chloride (PVC) products to make them softer.

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Article on Pthalates in Children’s Products

This 1999 article in the Consumer Product Safety Review summarizes CPSC’s actions on phthalates in some children’s products and includes a list of manufacturers and retailers that agreed to remove the chemicals from products intended for or likely to be mouthed by children under 3 years old, such as teethers.

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Groups Request Ban on PVC in Children’s Products

In November 1998, Greenpeace and other organizations filed a petition with the CPSC requesting a ban on PVC in products intended for children 5 years and under. Later that year, the Commission reached the agreement with manufacturers to remove phthalates in some products.

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Commission Denies PVC Ban Petition

The CPSC did not act on the broader PVC ban petition request until 2003 when it issued a denial.

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This 1996 law adopted by the city of Rahway, NJ bans the use of PVC and polystyrene food containers and utensils by retail food sellers in the city limits. It also prohibits the city from purchasing food packaging with such chemicals. It was updated in 2004.

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In 2002, SC Johnson completed a PVC-free packaging transition, representing over 3.7 million pounds of PVC diverted from production and disposal and cost savings. For example, Argentina replaced PVC blister packs with polypropylene for a cost savings of $150,000 a year. It was initiated through the company’s Greenlist process, which avoids purchasing persistent bioaccumulative toxic (PBT) chemicals. This company report, Moving Toward Sustainability, provides an overview of their efforts to phase out PVC and PBT chemicals.

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Greening the Company’s Supply Chain

This case study report by an environmental consulting firm provides detailed information on SC Johnson’s Greenlist process.

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Shaw Industries, the world’s largest carpet manufacturer, announced its exit from PVC carpet backing in this 2004 News Release. The company received a Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award for developing recyclable carpet tile with less embodied energy than traditional PVC carpet tiles, while maintaining equal or greater performance.

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Limited Brands, which owns Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works, completed a transition to PVC-free packaging in 2003 resulting in a reduction of PVC usage of 4.3 million pounds annually. This came in response to a campaign by Greenpeace, Center for Health, Environment & Justice and other groups. Their Corporate Social Responsibility Report describes the company’s PVC-free policy (see page 3).

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