Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC, #3)

Polyvinyl chloride (or vinyl) has stable physical properties, and excellent transparency. In summary, PVC has the following properties:

  • Good physical properties
  • Low heat resistance
  • Good chemical resistance
  • Excellent transparency
  • Good flame resistance

Typical End Uses

Vinyl products can be broadly divided into rigid and flexible materials. Rigid applications, accounting for 60 percent of total vinyl production, are concentrated in construction markets, which include pipe and fittings, siding, carpet backing, and windows. Bottles and packaging sheet are also major rigid markets. Flexible vinyl is used in wire and cable insulation, film and sheet, floor coverings, synthetic leather products, coatings, blood bags, medical tubing and many other applications. (American Plastics Council, adapted from Modern Plastics Encyclopedia, 1995).


In 1996, 13.2 billion pounds of virgin PVC resin were produced in the U.S. Franklin & Associates estimated the amount of PVC in products discarded in the municipal waste stream for EPA in March 1996 at 1.44 million tons for 1994. Franklin also estimated that a negligible amount of PVC was recycled in the U.S. in 1994.

Estimates of California PVC bottle generation taken from the Society of Plastics Industries (SPI) and factored to California (using a factor of 10 percent of U.S. total), indicate that about 7,518 tons of PVC rigid containers were generated in California in 1996. PVC recovery estimates specific to California are not available.


Estimates are not available for the amount of PVC postconsumer resin (PCR) used as manufacturing feedstock in California. In general, recycled PVC could be incorporated in the manufacture the following commodities:

  • Packaging, film and sheet
  • Hose, pipe, and tubing
  • Appliance housings
  • Bottles, squeeze tubes
  • Automotive trim pieces
  • Business equipment components
  • Construction, vinyl siding


For more information contact: Business Assistance, bzassist@calrecycle.ca.gov.