Survey Says: Industry Clings to Toxic Vinyl

Our friends at the Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ) recently passed along the results of a survey that gives an interesting inside look at industry. The Flexible Vinyl Alliance’s Spring Survey exposes how toxic vinyl (PVC) makers view the growing movement away from the use of this particularly toxic plastic.

In the past few years, as a result of advocacy from groups like CEH, CHEJ and many others, major companies had made commitments towards reducing or ending the sale of certain vinyl products. Target, Wal-Mart, Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, Nike, and other companies have all taken action to move away from vinyl. Moves like these by large businesses have cut into the vinyl industry’s profits and helped expose the hidden environmental and health problems associated with the production, use and disposal of PVC. According to the Healthy Building Network’s PVC Facts report, ethylene dichloride, vinyl chloride, and dioxin (the most potent carcinogen known) are toxic components in vinyl. Dioxin alone has been linked to various types of cancer, endocrine disruption, birth defects, damaged development in children, and impaired reproductive and immune systems.

The FVA is obviously concerned about the growing influence of environmental health organizations and advocates that have exposed PVC’s dangers and pushed businesses away from vinyl products. In response to their survey asking vinyl companies about the movement away from their products, ninety-one percent of the respondents stated that their biggest concern was the “actions by Certifying Bodies (voluntary) to De-Select PVC….”Forty six percent said the negative perception of vinyl was responsible for lost sales or lost jobs.

In response, you might think that FVA would consider retooling the industry towards safer products that can contribute to a truly green business future. But you’d be wrong. Instead their survey found that 95% of the industry would or might join a public relations campaign intended to “enhance the positive image of PVC in the public’s eye.” It seems the vinyl industry intends to hold on to their toxic products with their cold, dead hands.