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What makes PVC important?

PVC has a versatility that helps it meet the various needs of modern architecture. In addition to new projects, PVC is also widely used in refurbishment where it often replaces traditional materials such as metals and wood.

Key properties:

Strong and lightweight
PVC’s abrasion resistance, light weight, good mechanical strength and toughness are key technical advantages for its use in building and construction applications.

Easy to install
PVC can be cut, shaped, welded and joined easily in a variety of styles.

PVC is resistant to weathering, rotting, chemical corrosion, shock and abrasion. It is therefore the preferred choice for a range of customers for many different long-life and outdoor products. In fact, medium and long-term applications account for some 85 per cent of PVC production in the building and construction sector.

For example, it is estimated that PVC pipes will have potential in-service lives of up to 100 years. In other applications such as window profiles and cable insulation, studies indicate that over 60 per cent of them will have working lives of over 40 years.

PVC has been a popular material for construction applications for decades due to its physical and technical properties which provide excellent cost-performance advantages. As a material it is very competitive in terms of price, this value is also enhanced by the properties such as its durability, lifespan and low maintenance.

Environmental impact
Excellent thermal insulation of PVC windows, cladding and roofing helps to significantly increase the energy efficiency of buildings. PVC piping systems help prevent leakage and their exceptionally smooth surfaces reduce the cost of pumping fluids.

PVC products require comparatively less energy and resource use during production, as well as in conversion to finished products. They are lighter than those made of concrete, iron or steel requiring less energy (and thus fewer emissions) to transport and install.

PVC piping systems help prevent leakage and their exceptionally smooth surfaces reduce the cost of pumping fluids

In lifecycle analyses and independent studies, PVC’s environmental impact has been found to be favourable when compared with other manufactured materials used for construction. PVC products are also so durable that frequent replacement is unnecessary. And, as a thermoplastic, at the end of one use, PVC is relatively straightforward to separate from other plastics and then can be easily recycled into new applications.

Well-established schemes ensure that a large proportion of PVC used in construction applications, such as pipes, window profiles and flooring are now recycled at the end of their useful lives.

And additional recycling facilities for waste PVC construction materials are being developed each year across Europe. If not recycled, it is possible to recover energy from PVC by incineration. PVC can also safely be deposited in landfill if no recovery solution is available.

PVC is a non-toxic inert polymer. It is a socially valuable resource that has been used for more than half a century. It is also the world’s most researched and thoroughly tested plastic. It meets all international standards for safety and health for both the products and applications for which it is used.

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