More About PVC

For more information on:

  • The responsible use of additives
    • Lead
    • Plasticisers such as Phthalates
    • Food Contact Packaging
    • Medical Devises
    • Toys and Pacifiers

READ BELOW!

Responsible Use of Additives

SAVA through its membership, the PVC industry and governmental interaction, has one of its highest priorities to implement and manage it's Product Stewardship Commitment (PSC) through self-regulatory measures related to sustainable manufacturing practices, the responsible use of additives and a credible recycling programme.

Why a Product Stewardship Commitment for the PVC Industry?

Imperatives such as health, environment and sustainability requires Southern Africa to develop a regional and industry compliant set of protocols related to issues such as:

  • Emissions in the production of PVC resin and PVC products.
  • The use of safe and internationally accepted additives in PVC products, manufacturing thereof and life-cycle considerations.
  • The use of internationally approved additives in food contact products, toys, medical devices and other sensitive applications.
  • Declaration, disclosure and/or controls in the use of restricted or hazardous substances.
  • Verification through data collection.
  • Recycling of end-of-life products.
  • Training and communication programmes.

Europe's Vinyl 2010 and REACH programs, other international Vinyl Councils and regulatory authorities have all identified significant and high priority Key Commitments in the global PVC industry.

Lead

Sources

  1. (ECVM) :http://www.pvc.org/What-is-PVC/How-is-PVC-made/PVC-Additives/Lead-Stabilisers
  2. Australian Product Stewardship – Progress report 2009
  3. (ESPA) http://www.stabilisers.org– Stabiliser manufacturers Association
  4. (Australian Vinyl Council) - www.vinyl.org.au
  5. The Lead Regulations, GRN236/2002 under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (Act No. 85 of 1993)

For more information on stabilisers visit the ESPA (European Stabiliser Producers Association) website on www.stabilisers.org

What is lead?

Lead is a natural, bluish-gray metal. The chemical formula for lead is Pb.

1Lead is an abundant metal which has been exploited since mining began in ancient historical times.

Lead has the longest history as a stabiliser for PVC and represents around 2% of the total OECD lead usage. Lead compounds are the most cost-effective and common form of stabiliser used for PVC. Their stabilising effects are excellent and used for PVC products with long service life and required to endure longer fabrication (heating) hours.

What does lead do?

As heat stabilisers for the processing of PVC.  Certain lead stabilisers also provide heat and UV stability in use. Lead compounds also offer other processing and in use benefits.

The major properties of PVC compounds incorporating lead stabilisers include: 1

  • Excellent heat and light stability.
  • Good electrical properties.
  • Excellent short and long-term mechanical properties.
  • Low water absorption.
  • Wide processing range.
  • Good cost/performance ratio.

Types and Application

Terta-basic lead sulphate, tri-basic lead sulphate, di-basic lead phosphate, di-basic lead stearate, di-basic lead phthalate, normal lead setarate and complex lead stabiliser “one-packs”

Alternative Stabilisers4
Alternative stabiliser compounds being used in place of lead and cadmium compounds include calcium zinc, barium, tin and organic based stabilisers.

Frequently asked questions about lead...

Why are lead and cadmium used in PVC products?

Leadcompounds are used as heat stabilisers, primarily in rigid PVC such as pipes and gutters. The stabiliser is tightly bound into the PVC matrix limiting leaching from the surface of PVC. The CSIRO found that under normal use conditions of PVC pipe, its contribution to levels of lead in the environment is small relative to contributions from other sources .  Very little cadmium is used in PVC product manufacture in Australia.

Doesn't PVC contain potentially toxic metal addtiives?

Metals are immobilized in the plastic matrix, in much the same way as they are within traditional glass products made from lead crystal, and will not be released during the service life of the articles.

Isn't lead used as a stabiliser in PVC poisonous?

Lead-based stabilisers used within PVC formulations are immobilized in the plastic matrix in much the same way as they are within traditional glass products made from lead crystal, and lead compounds will not be released during the service life of the articles.

The Risk assessment on lead shows that the use of lead stabilizers is safe to the consumers.

Despite this absence of identified risks, ESPA and EuPC committed in 2000 to replace lead stabilisers by 2015. Based on intensive effort and significant investment, the first interim target of a 15 percent reduction was achieved in 2004 - one year ahead of the original schedule. 2007 industry statistics indicate that the phase out has now reached around 35%. The next target is a reduction of 50 percent in 2010. The commitment to phase out lead stabilisers by 2015 was confirmed and extended to the EU 25 in April 2006.

Won't dumping PVC into landfills pollute soil and ground water?

A study carried out in 1999 by Rostock University on behalf of the European authorities concluded that the long-term behaviour of PVC in landfill does not raise concerns when tested under conditions which simulate actual landfill behaviour. Testing at extreme conditions to accelerate the decomposition yielded questionable results. The PVC industry asked the Universities of Hamburg-Harburg and Linköping to perform tests at temperatures up to levels tested by Rostock. The main findings were:

  • No degradation of the PVC polymer was observed.
  • Some plasticizers are subject to losses. However, due to microbial transformation, the concentrations in the leachate are not correlated with the losses. Phthalates and their degradation products may occur, but only transiently and at low concentrations.
  • In contrast to this, the release of stabilisers appears to be attributable to superficial leaching. Concentrations in leachate can usually not be discerned from the background. The contribution of PVC products to the inventory of heavy metals in municipal solid waste is anyway low. For instance, a recent inventory showed that the relative contribution of PVC to lead present in landfills is estimated to be around 5 %.

All things considered, PVC products do not constitute a substantial impact on the toxicity of landfill leachate. Provided that landfills are operated appropriately and responsibly in accordance with present technical regulations, landfilling of PVC products does not raise environmental concerns.

Plasticisers

What are plasticisers?

Plasticisers are chemical substances added to PVC to form softened, more flexible manufactured goods such as flooring, cabling, hoses and other. There are nearly 100 different types of plasticisers in commercial use and the application, properties and final product requirements determines the selection.

Globally nearly six million metric tons of plasticisers are consumed every year, of which 15% is in Europe alone. In Southern Africa approximately 40 000 tons are consumed annually, of which 95% is used in the flexible PVC market.

Plasticisers are generally odorless, colorless , oily liquids which are mostly heat stable and chemically inert. Plasticised PVC can be moulded, coated and extruded into a multitude of modern household goods such as luggage, footwear, gloves, toys, medical tubing and masks.

There are three main categories of plasticisers:

  • General purpose plasticisers.
  • Phthalates.
  • Speciality plasticisers.

Low Phthalates

The most common plasticisers used throughout the world are a class of compounds called Phthalates (pronounced Thal-ates).  They are esters formed by reacting Phthalic Anhydride and different carbon length alcohols to form colourless, odourless liquids.  The reacted alcohol length ultimately determines the Phthalate category used.

Due to their widespread use, phthalates have undergone extensive testing for possible health and environmental effects and are therefore the most widely researched of all chemical substances.  The European Commission and European Chemical Agency have undertaken and completed 10 years of scientific assessments of various phthalates … their initial findings have been published in 2008 and 2010 reports.

For more information on phthalates, the manufacturing process and the European Commission Reports – go to:

Phthalates are divided into two distinct groups, with differing applications, properties and toxicological classifications namely low phthalates and high phthalates.

South Africa is the only producer of phthalates in Africa and approximately 40,000 metric tones are produced and consumed, mostly in the flexible PVC industry.

Although there is a general trend and desire for industry to phase out DEHP in certain industry sectors in favour of DINP and DIDP, the global capacity limitations of isononanol and isodecanol is restricting any immediate shift to high phthalates.  The rapid conversion of North America and the EU has placed excessive demand on the availability of DINP/DIDP precursor alcohols and this in effect has left the rest of the developing world heavily reliant on DEHP as the primary plasticizer for flexible PVC.

Low Phthalatessuch as DMP,DEP,DIBP,DEHP and BBP are low molecular weight phthalates which contain 8 or less carbon atoms on the alcohol part of the ester.  There phthalates represent about 15% of phthalates consumed in Europe, however this percentage rises significantly in global terms.  Risk assessments have led to the classification and labelling as Category 1B with restrictions on their use imposed in many developed countries and economic blocks such as Europe.  Certain restrictions have been placed on their use in toys, child care articles, medical devices, food contact materials and cosmetics. 

DEHP (Di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate) is one of the most prolific plasticisers globally and is one of the most cost effective and efficient PVC plasticisers in use.  It is listed by the EU hazard classification as a substance of very high concern (SVHC) and REACH authorization is required.  During the last 10 years DEHP has progressively been replaced by high phthalates such as DINP and DIDP, regarded as safe plasticisers.

High Phthalates

The most common plasticisers used throughout the world are a class of compounds called Phthalates (pronounced Thal-ates).  They are esters formed by reacting Phthalic Anhydride and different carbon length alcohols to form colourless, odourless liquids.  The reacted alcohol length ultimately determines the Phthalate category used.

Due to their widespread use, phthalates have undergone extensive testing for possible health and environmental effects and are therefore the most widely researched of all chemical substances.  The European Commission and European Chemical Agency have undertaken and completed 10 years of scientific assessments of various phthalates … their initial findings have been published in 2008 and 2010 reports.

For more information on phthalates, the manufacturing process and the European Commission Reports – go to:

Phthalates are divided into two distinct groups, with differing applications, properties and toxicological classifications namely low phthalates and high phthalates. 

High Phthalates, such as DINP (Di-isonyl phthalate), DIDP (Di-isodecyl phthalate) and DTDP, are high molecular weight phthalates and have grown in use in Europe and North America to nearly 75% of phthalates consumed.  Risk assessments have shown positive results regarding the safe use of the products.  They do not require any classification for health and environmental effects.  They are safely used in numerous everyday consumer and industrial applications.

The European Commission has confirmed that products such as DINP and DIDP pose no risk to human health or environment.  This has been after many decades of exhaustive scientific evaluation and testing.  These products are not regarded as endocrine disrupters, nor human carcinogens and have not been classified as such by the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Read more … http://www.dinp-facts.com

As PVC plasticisers, these products are very efficient in softening PVC, have lower migration and volatiles performance.  DINP and DIDP are used extensively in the wire and cable industry, as plasticized PVC is the most widely used electrical insulation and sheathing material.  Flexible PVC using DINP or DIDP is also used as sheathing in the fibre optic and data cabling.

Other uses and applications include flooring, upholstery, tents and tarpaulins, decals and advertising materials, car interiors, conveyor belting, gaskets for windows and showers and many more. 

Phthalates are not chemically bound in PVC and can, over time, migrate from the PVC matrix into the environment, although at low levels.  They do biodegrade in aerobic conditions, If spillage or contamination occurs, environmental clean-up should be with liquid absorbent materials and physical containment.

Speciality Plasticisers

This is a wide group of plasticisers used in the polymer and PVC industry and are selected in their use based on very specific properties they help impart to the product.  There are in excess of 250 types of plasticisers and they can impart characteristics such as fire resistance, sub zero temperature flexibility and strength, high temperature stability for hot zones of operation such as under-bonnet vehicle conditions.

Many of these plasticisers are suitable for to a narrow range of applications such as toys, medical devices, sealants and foot contact materials such as Cling Film, cap closures, food / cold room gaskets.

Certain of these products do not have health or environmental restrictions, are not reprotoxic and are not carcinogenic.  These issues should be dealt with on an individual product basis, a few of which we can cover:

Adipates

Di-2-ethyhexyl adipate (DEHA) also known as DOA is the most commonly used adipates and mainly in soft PVC products such as Cling film and medical devices.  They can impart good transparency, enhanced low temperature performance for cold environments (fridges and freezers) and as in cling film can give a good protective covering to food and dairy products from bacteria and micro-organisms.  These films are widely used in supermarkets, butcheries, in the catering industry and at home.  DEHA is readily available in Southern Africa and is used in many of the above applications.

Citrates

Citric acid (used in the food industry) is the starting precursor material for a number of citrate types such as acetyl tributyl citrate.  As a primary plasticizer they have good low temperature performance and low order of toxicity and are of particular interest in food contact and medical applications.  They do however lack the permanency of phthalates and have a very high cost and in most instances economically prohibitive to use.  Although safe to use they exhibit tendency to migrate, volatilize and fog and this limits their use in flooring, automotive and multi-layer applications in packaging.

Other speciality plasticisers include Trimellitates, Terephthalates, phosphate esters and benzoates. 

Regulated Additives

Food grade PVC Cling film would have additives that comply with food contact approval ratings internationally and these would include the plasticisers used to make the PVC highly flexible and tenacious. 

These films would typically include plasticisers such as di-w-ethylhexyl adipate (DEHA), acetyltributyl citrate (ATBC) and food grade Epoxidised Soya Bean Oil (ESBO).  These products have been given clearance to be used in food contact packaging, toys and external medical devices;  do not require retailer or manufacturer notice or communication and have no restrictions of use in Europe and North America where regulations are critically observed.  In Australia and New Zealand these films have been assessed by the Food Standards Authority and have been declared as unlikely to pose a health risk to humans.

Food Contact Packaging

Many types of plastics have revolutionized food packaging and PVC Cling Film is not exception.  This unique product, an ultra thin PVC film, imparts food protective and preserving qualities.  It is flexible, tear resistant and a cost effective tool in food preservation.

Food grade cling film is widely used in household, catering food outlets, retailers, dairy and meat industries because of its ability to preserve the freshness and shelf-life of foods;  given by the high oxygen and water vapour transmission of the film and the incredible cling and wrap characteristics of the film.

Easy to use in the home and in high speed packaging lines, the product is highly elastic and resistant to puncture, can be heat sealed and its clarity give it excellent presentation of food.

Food grade PVC Cling film would have additives that comply with food contact approval ratings internationally and these would include the plasticisers used to make the PVC highly flexible and tenacious. 

These films would typically include plasticisers such as di-w-ethylhexyl adipate (DEHA), acetyltributyl citrate (ATBC) and food grade Epoxidised Soya Bean Oil (ESBO).  These products have been given clearance to be used in food contact packaging, toys and external medical devices;  do not require retailer or manufacturer notice or communication and have no restrictions of use in Europe and North America where regulations are critically observed.  In Australia and New Zealand these films have been assessed by the Food Standards Authority and have been declared as unlikely to pose a health risk to humans.

These versatile PVC cling films have been in continuous use in Europe and North America for over 30 years and scientific research has repeatedly shown the products perfectly safe for use.

PVC Cling Film

Many types of plastics have revolutionized food packaging and PVC Cling Film is not exception.  This unique product, an ultra thin PVC film, imparts food protective and preserving qualities.  It is flexible, tear resistant and a cost effective tool in food preservation.

Food grade cling film is widely used in household, catering food outlets, retailers, dairy and meat industries because of its ability to preserve the freshness and shelf-life of foods;  given by the high oxygen and water vapour transmission of the film and the incredible cling and wrap characteristics of the film.

Easy to use in the home and in high speed packaging lines, the product is highly elastic and resistant to puncture, can be heat sealed and its clarity give it excellent presentation of food.

Food grade PVC Cling film would have additives that comply with food contact approval ratings internationally and these would include the plasticisers used to make the PVC highly flexible and tenacious. 

These films would typically include plasticisers such as di-w-ethylhexyl adipate (DEHA), acetyltributyl citrate (ATBC) and food grade Epoxidised Soya Bean Oil (ESBO).  These products have been given clearance to be used in food contact packaging, toys and external medical devices;  do not require retailer or manufacturer notice or communication and have no restrictions of use in Europe and North America where regulations are critically observed.  In Australia and New Zealand these films have been assessed by the Food Standards Authority and have been declared as unlikely to pose a health risk to humans.

These versatile PVC cling films have been in continuous use in Europe and North America for over 30 years and scientific research has repeatedly shown the products perfectly safe for use.

PVC Bottles

PVC continues to be widely used in cling film, shrink wrap, bottles and blister packaging, among others, based on its packaging properties. It exhibits excellent barrier properties which are vital for preservation of foodstuff, while its superior chemical resistance enables use in various pharmaceutical and other industrial packaging applications.  

Medical Devices

The ability of PVC medical devices to withstand various sterilization methods makes it the product of choice for blood bags, intravenous tubing, masks, surgical gloves, and many other similar applications. The hygiene requirements for flooring and wall coverings at medical facilities place enormous demands on materials used. PVC has proven to be ideal for these applications, allowing for ease of disinfection which enables these facilities to offer life-saving services in hygienic conditions.  

Toys and Pacifiers

PVC’s versatility enables use in many consumer products, including umbrellas, toys, shower curtains, footwear, gloves, banners and coated fabric. This versatility affords designers limitless opportunities to create fashion and artistic items of convenience to today’s modern society. Few other materials can lay claim to such variety of consumer applications as PVC.