Polyvinyl chloride has grown to become one of the most popular materials on the market today. And for good reason—it's one of the safest, durable, cost-effective and innovative materials ever created. From the credit cards we use, the cars we drive, the homes we occupy, and the places we work; PVC has revolutionized the way consumer and building products are made in the modern era.
PVC has revolutionized the material marketplace for more than 60 years. And given its remarkable success, it's no surprise would-be PVC competitors would throw their hat in the ring, develop alternative materials and promote those products to see how the marketplace would respond.
And they have absolutely every right to do so. But they don't have the right to disparage PVC in the process and mislead the public with inaccurate and potentially libelous claims about PVC when hawking their own product lines.
And yet that's exactly what occurred in a story in the July 10 issue of Rubber & Plastics News, republished in Plastics News a day later, with Marcia Coulson, president of Eldon James Corp., maker of non-PVC plastic tubing products. In it, she makes a litany of distortions about PVC.
Specifically, Coulson misleads readers by claiming PVC is inherently corrosive and could emit chloride gas when processed. Her statement distorts the facts. Thermal degradation of PVC will not occur unless it is improperly processed. What readers should know is that many plastic materials have the potential to emit certain substances when overheated due to incorrect production methods. But when properly processed, there are no issues. Some 13 billion pounds of PVC compounds are successfully processed in the U.S. each year, all well within highly regulated and acceptable U.S. EPA limits.
She inaccurately states thermoplastic elastomer products cannot be run on the same equipment that make PVC. While there are some types of equipment where vinyl compounds should not be processed, most modern extruders can be set up to process a variety of materials successfully, including flexible vinyl. Purge compounds are routinely used throughout the plastics processing industry to clean equipment between runs, removing residuals that allow machines to handle production of different materials.
Coulson also tries to validate EJ's competitive interests by invoking the anti-PVC endeavor of Healthier Hospitals Initiative. She portrays HHI as a legitimate organization, but she fails to disclose that one of HHI's founding sponsors is Health Care Without Harm—an agenda-driven organization that has been deceiving the public on PVC for years to solicit fundraising support. HHI representatives also include active and former members of longstanding groups with motivated interests against PVC, including HCWH, Greenpeace and the Healthy Building Network.
And Coulson attempts to spark fear in the public square—without citing any evidence whatsoever—by claiming a "link" between PVC and endocrine disruption. It's the same fear-mongering-talking-point eco-vangelists have been spreading for decades.
The PVC industry has always maintained that increased material competition is a good thing. It helps our economy and it lowers costs for consumers. But when certain companies seek to achieve financial gain by spreading unsupportable and decades old falsehoods in the discourse about a competitor's technology, it's reckless and irresponsible. And when their statements distort the facts and mislead the public, those responsible deserve to be held publicly accountable.
Richard Doyle is the president & CEO of the Vinyl Institute.