Brenan Koerner writes in Slate.com about the affects PVC has on the recycling stream.
The nastiest of those potential contaminants isn't your polypropylene [yogurt container] but rather PVC (aka plastic No. 3). Though it's increasingly rare in the United States due to concerns over dioxin emissions during manufacture, PVC is still prevalent enough to ruin many a load of otherwise recyclable PET. The stuff is the bane of recyclers everywhere: A single PVC bottle can irrevocably contaminate an entire 800-pound load of otherwise desirable PET, rendering it unfit to be made into new products—PVC forms acids when mixed with PET, and those acids can make the recycled plastic unacceptably fragile. Because of this danger, many recycling facilities now employ machines such as FlakeSort, which analyzes the PVC content of processed plastic "flakes" before they're sold on the open market.
In addition to ruining batches of PET plastic, PVC also contains toxins such as heavy metals, phthalates and dioxins at a high incidence rate.
CAW and PVC:
- Learn About AB 2505, which would phase out the use of PVC resin in consumer packaging.