Somewhere along the way, vinyl was given a bad reputation —as it turns out, one that was both inaccurate and unfair. This one material has many compelling reasons to make it your product of choice for your next flooring project.
Vinyl is the most energy-efficient major plastic. It is largely derived from salt — an abundant and inexpensive resource. Vinyl products consume less energy, generate fewer emissions, and save more energy than many competitive products. And thanks to its low conductivity, vinyl provides high thermal efficiency. Finished products reduce heat exchange and in many cases provide insulation, reflect heat, and reduce the need for air conditioning.
Because it’s strong and resistant to moisture and abrasion, vinyl is the most widely used plastic for building and construction. It won’t rot or corrode, doesn’t require frequent painting or staining and can be cleaned with mild cleaning products (in some cases, even water!). And its natural chemical composition makes it extremely flame-resistant, slow to ignite, slow to spread and unable to burn without a flame source. Even vinyl that has added a flammable agent has usually also added a fire retardant to neutralize it.
Scrap, trim and off-spec material recycled from vinyl production adds up to more than 1 billion pounds annually, meaning that 99% of manufactured vinyl is made into other products, not sent to landfills. Tens of millions of pounds of post-consumer vinyl is also recycled — and many millions of pounds more are still in service in many applications to people around the globe.
There are many misconceptions about the chemical content and relative safey of vinyl. Here are vinyl’s contents, and the facts:
CHLORINE — once chlorine is processed into vinyl, it’s locked into the product more tightly than when it was in salt (the base resource). When recycled, landfilled or burned in a modern incinerator, no chlorine gas is released into the atmosphere.
DIOXIN — vinyl is an extremely small source of dioxin, so small that there would be no measurable positive environmental impact if it wasn’t being manufactured and used every day. Environmental dioxin levels have decreased for decades, even as production and use of vinyl have tripled (source: Environmental Protection Agency).
HYDROGEN CHLORIDE — a byproduct of burning vinyl, but not a dangerous one until it reaches levels far higher than those measured in actual fires. Its pungent odor when burned has actually served as an early warning for fires.
INCINERATION —vinyl can be safely incinerated, recapturing and reusing its energy.
INDOOR AIR QUALITY —properly installed vinyl products have no adverse impact on IAQ, and the small amount of volatile organic compounds emitted will dissipate quickly with normal ventilation. Low VOC requirements are easily met by maintaining standards set by FloorScore®, Green Label Plus, and GREENGUARD.
LANDFILL AVOIDANCE — vinyl products are extremely resistant to corrosive conditions found in landfills, and often are used as landfill liners and caps due to their stable and inert characteristics.
LIFE CYCLE ASSESSMENT — true environmental impact is measured by accurately reviewing the entire lifecycle of a product. Vinyl enjoys a long, beneficial, low-impact life.