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Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is a vinyl chloride polymer. It is derived 57% from chlorine and 43% from petroleum. Chlorine, combined with ethylene refined from petroleum, forms the vinyl chloride monomer (VCM). These molecules, 'joined' through the polymerisation process, create vinyl chloride polymer (PVC).

The invention of PVC dates to 1835 when it was accidentally synthesised by French chemist Henri Victor Regnault.


Its industrial production began around 1950. By mixing PVC resin with various additives - fillers, colouring agents, stabilisers, lubricants and plasticisers - several formulations are obtained for different product features.


The importance of recovery

Most PVC products have a long service life, which can exceed a hundred years, and require little maintenance.


Due to its low carbon content (<40%), PVC is the plastic material with the lowest contribution to CO2 emissions. 

PVC is classified as "non-hazardous" by the European Reach Chemicals Regulation.


Using plasticisers, it can be processed into rigid or flexible products.


It is impermeable to liquids, gases and vapours.


It is an extremely durable material with a potential service life exceeding a hundred years.


It is an extremely resistant material to chemicals, especially acids.


Being a thermoplastic polymer, it is recyclable many times over.


PVC recycling

For decades, the European PVC industry has been increasing levels of recovery and recycling of this material.


Several studies conducted by leading international research centres have shown that recycling PVC leads to energy savings - up to -90% compared to the production of virgin PVC - and less CO2 pollution, i.e., 2 kg less CO2 released into the environment for every kg of PVC recovered.

There are three recycling types:


The PVC product is reduced to ground flakes and then mixed and processed.


The PVC product is broken down into its constituent components until a resin matching the original is obtained.

Energy recovery

The energy still available in PVC waste is 'harnessed' through the waste-to-energy process.

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