As an industry, we have been discussing the hazards of PVC for more than 15 years and whilst steps have been made in the right direction, products made with PVC continue to be far and away the most commonly used.
During the last 12 months, we have reached a tipping point. The global situation, along with the long-term trends of sustainability and health and wellness, have converged to bring an unprecedented and intense focus on the genetic makeup of materials specified. The spotlight is firmly on the most ubiquitous material in our industry: PVC.
Due to its chlorinated chemistry and its many toxic additives, PVC is reputedly responsible for a range of serious environmental and human health hazards ranging from water and soil contamination to cancer, infertility and birth defects.
From its manufacture to its disposal, PVC emits toxic compounds. During the manufacture of the building block ingredients of PVC (such as vinyl chloride monomer) dioxin and other persistent pollutants are emitted into the air, water and land eco systems, which present both acute and chronic health hazards.
During use, PVC products can leach toxic additives, such as VOCs and phthalates. When PVC burns accidentally (for example, in a high-rise apartment fire), it emits a highly toxic hydrogen chloride gas and dioxin.
Finally, when PVC reaches the end of its useful life, it can be either landfilled, where it leaches toxins; incinerated, where it emits dioxin; or – in some cases – recycled, but again toxic fumes are emitted.
Influential materials rating systems, such as Cradle to Cradle and Living Building Challenge recommend avoiding PVC. The list of prominent brands (such as Apple, Microsoft, Nike, Adidas, Mars and Unilever), as well as major institutions and large print houses that have adopted PVC avoidance policies continues to grow.
Because of these factors, combined with new and improved performance PVC-free alternatives and a significant reduction in the price gap, the push to replace PVC has never been stronger!
Use of self-adhesives in POS and interior decoration:
Even though the vast majority of applications are indoor or short-term outdoor on simple surfaces, monomeric – and to a lesser extent polymeric self-adhesive PVC and PVC coated wallpapers – are the default choice. The major drivers of this choice are price, performance and habit as historically PVC-free products performed poorly and/or were priced out of the market. However, this is no longer the case and we need to challenge ourselves to think differently about the materials chosen for these types of applications.
Whilst self-adhesive PVC-free alternatives such as PP, PET and non-woven materials are not the gold standard of sustainability, they are certainly a step in the right direction. With no measurable impact on human health and a significantly smaller impact on the environment, they are overall a better choice for almost any indoor or short-term outdoor application.
Over the last decade, Neschen has continued to innovate and optimise the sustainability of is manufacturing processes and product offering which actively contribute to protecting the environment and human health.
In 2010, 95% of Neschen’s product portfolio was PVC-based; fast forward to today and over 50% is PVC-free. From Easy Dot® to EasySTYLE interior design films, from floor and window graphics to wallpapers and wallcoverings, from protective laminates to mounting films, Neschen has a PVC-free option for almost any interior or short-term exterior application.
In 2021 alone, Neschen has launched two new, exciting PVC-free product ranges:
- EasySTYLE, a range of durable decorative, self-adhesive, architectural finishes for interior decoration and shop fitting.
- Easy Dot® PP, the best solution for eco-friendly, fast and easy to install and remove promotional graphics on windows, walls and floors.
Aside from the obvious environmental and health benefits, PVC-free alternatives from Neschen offer shrink-free performance combined with a wide range of solvent-free, high quality adhesives. Not only do these materials perform to the desired level and are price competitive, but in some cases they are cheaper than the PVC equivalent.
Given the environmental, health and social trends – plus the undoubted improvements in the performance and price of PVC-free alternatives – surely you should now be asking yourself: “What’s my excuse for not going PVC-free?”
Blog Authored by Matt Manteit
International Sales Manager
Neschen Coating GmbH.