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A World Of Plastic-Type 3

All you have to do is search “poison plastic” on the internet and Type 3 plastics gets a whole page. I am not even trying to be mean or unfair, Polyvinyl chloride (PVC or vinyl) has earned this rep all on it’s own. There are articles by the Center For Health, Environment and Justice (this is not a government agency), Greenpeace and even a video on YouTube declaring it poison. You know if it’s on YouTube it has to be real. Let’s take a look at PVC and make up our own minds.

PVC and vinyl are names most people have heard of. Have a plumbing problem, PVC. Wrap a sandwich in cling wrap, PVC. Give your baby their bottle, PVC. Spin the record round and round, PVC. There are tons of uses for this plastic; shower curtains, variety of clear bottles and packaging products, medical bags, faux leather products, toys. PVC plastic is the third most common type used in the US and the UK. PVC can be manufactured to be either rigid or flexible. The rigid comprises 70% of all that is made.

Due to the chemical make up of PVC, it is not a welcome member at your local recycling center. PVC is made from many different formulations composed of various additives which makes breaking it down into it’s original components nearly impossible. To further complicate matters, when a single PVC bottle is combined with a batch of 100,000 recycled non-chlorinated bottles, the entire batch is contaminated and unusable. When it is recycled, it is made into inferior, lower quality products, such as binders, decking, speed bumps and traffic cones. The best tips for recycling this product are Precycle, avoid it if possible, and Reuse, donate it. Makes you wonder where all that waste is going.

Since PVC is so difficult to recycle most of it sits in landfills or it is incinerated. The big problem with Type 3 is that it creates dioxins which are extremely toxic and carcinogenic. There are a number of health problems associated with it such as developmental and reproductive disease, immune system damage, and cancer.  Medical waste incinerators, backyard burn barrels and municipal solid waste incinerators account for 80% of all dioxin emissions to air. Disposing of PVC into landfills results in dioxin poisoning of landfills and groundwater. Not as pretty a picture as this incinerator plant in Vienna makes. 

To perplex the situation even more we have to bring up DEHP, Bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (I’ll let you look it up). This colourless viscous liquid is soluble in oil, but not in water. DEHP is widely used as a plasticizer in the manufacturing of articles made of PVC. This fluid PVC makes up the remaining 30% manufactured.  DEHP is toxic! The FDA put out a warning in 2002 about medical supplies. They also have warnings for food products. The new guidelines for DEHP-containing food packaging are; “Only for foods that primarily contain water”. That sure makes me feel safe. DEHP is known to cause smaller genital size and other feminizing links, obesity, toxicity and cardiotoxicity. Aggh, I’m shaking my head… Why is it still being used!?

So what are we to do? Many companies are figuring out they are poisoning their customers and are making changes. Many toys, food wraps and medical supplies are being produced without PVC. Other products contain warnings to not microwave or reuse but it is best to find alternatives to Type 3 plastics altogether. Not only can you save your planet, you can save your family.

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