Greenpeace Fixation on PVC Ignores Real Threats Driving Electronics Waste

Greenpeace Fixation on PVC Ignores Real Threats Driving Electronics Waste

As electronic waste continues to grow at alarming and unsustainable rates, one can conclude that Greenpeace’s decades long campaign to rate electronics manufacturers is an utter failure.

But Greenpeace continues to honor specific manufacturers in its annual rating of these companies that haven’t taken any measurable steps to reduce their global waste production.

Why? The answer lies in the extremist group’s obsession with PVC and other materials – and its refusal to confront the real issues regarding electronics waste buildup around the world.

The 2017 edition of Greenpeace’s annual “Guide to Greener Electronics” predictably distorts the facts on PVC – and recommends ill-conceived proposals that exacerbate the impact discarded electronics products have on our environment.

Greenpeace’s agenda-driven opposition to PVC is well documented. For decades, the extremist organization has misled the public about PVC, and tried to force companies to capitulate to its demands to remove the material from their products.

The group’s electronics guide is no different, as it compels manufacturers who wish to receive a star review that they must avoid using PVC altogether. 

But that very advice is contributing to the overwhelming number of electronics that are being thrown away in record numbers – often in landfills around the world– each and every year.  From 2014 to 2016, electronics waste (also known as “e-waste”) increased eight percent, totaling nearly 100 billion pounds. And that figure is expected to rise another 17 percent by 2021

The most effective way this trend can reverse itself is if electronics companies are incentivized to reuse their own plastic. Companies must be encouraged to establish recovery programs where they can recycle their parts and materials.  This would lead to a dramatic reduction in the amount of e-waste we generate every year, and would help curb the buildup of electronics products destined for landfills across the country, and around the world.

Instead, Greenpeace recommendations focus on restricting materials, and dissuading companies from using PVC– a material with proven life-cycle environmental advantages that can be recovered and reused to minimize landfill waste. It seems Greenpeace would rather see electronics manufacturers use inferior materials that have nowhere near the longevity, durability, recyclability, and cost-efficiency, of PVC.

That’s not empty rhetoric. One major electronics producer discontinued using PVC in its power cords after enduring intimidation by Greenpeace – only to find that the replacement material they chose was not nearly as strong.  The products would break repeatedly, affecting millions of customers, where many users simply threw them away – forcing these customers to prematurely replace their failed power cords. 

How, exactly, does that serve the best interests of the environment?

Today, some companies go to extreme lengths to use post-consumer plastic simply to appease groups like Greenpeace, when such practices yield a negative environmental result.  Some electronics manufacturers ship ground-up plastic water bottles half way around the world just to they can say they use the material in their products. The carbon footprint of such policies is enormous and entirely unsustainable.  And it would make far more sense for these companies to establish programs where they are able to reuse their own materials, including PVC, again and again. 

But Greenpeace’s ideological opposition toward PVC and other safe substances incapacitates any such rational or practical thinking, even when it stands to make a positive environmental impact.

If Greenpeace really wanted to confront the e-waste problem, it would call on manufacturers to set their material take-back rate equal to the growth of global e-waste production – which would create a neutral environmental impact going forward.

Instead, the organization continues to pressure companies to change material composition, which hasn’t addressed the growing problem of e-waste around the world.  Greenpeace prefers to scare readers with disingenuous scenarios about PVC disposal. And the electronics guide tries to incite hysteria about burning electronics that might contain PVC – when it clearly knows that such illegal open-burning practices emit a plethora of persistent and bio-accumulative toxins from a host of materials in these devices, whether PVC is present or not. The idea that eliminating PVC would somehow make uncontrolled burning safer is entirely false and remarkably deceiving.

But what’s most puzzling is the fact that the electronics guide praises certain companies, rewarding them with a favorable rating, for adopting Greenpeace’s illogical policies when these very manufacturers haven’t made a calculable contribution toward reducing their e-waste generation.

The statistics confirm that Greenpeace’s policies on e-waste haven’t achieved any real progress. Greenpeace first began its electronics campaign two decades ago. And with e-waste expected to rise another 17 percent over the next three years, the group’s fixation on PVC – and refusal to examine the larger issues of landfill diversion – prove its recommendations have failed to address the core problem.

If Greenpeace is truly committed to reducing the impact of e-waste, it would put aside its anti-PVC agenda – and confront the real threats regarding the growing amount of e-waste in our planet’s landfills.

HBN Releases Junk Science Carpet Claims

The Healthy Building Network (HBN) has reminded us yet again why Vinyl Verified is necessary to fact check the group’s reckless distortions about PVC. HBN, which has a financial motivation to mislead the public about vinyl, is now using its same tired tactics to take aim at PVC products in carpet backing. In its latest piece, the group engages in wild speculation, misstates the findings of important studies, and misrepresents the PVC production process, all for the purpose of inciting groundless consumer fear and hysteria regarding these products.

This isn’t anything new. HBN has a long, undeniable history of deceiving the public on PVC.  We’ve documented them herehere, and here.  The group’s statements and baseless claims against our industry have revealed an extraordinary lack of factual understanding and credibility regarding important matters involving PVC. Here’s what this particular analysis gets wrong.

PVC Production

HBN’s focus on PVC production isn’t just misleading, it’s rife with errors. The section kicks off by mentioning two classes of chemicals- heavy metal stabilizers and organotins, which aren’t even used in flexible PVC- to base its claim of alleged product toxicity.

HBN also continues to misrepresent the use of asbestos in the chlor-alkali process:

  • HBN’s asbestos expert misleads readers when he asserts that asbestos use is limited to chlor-alkali production. In fact, over 99.9% of asbestos from a single mine in Brazil is used for non-chlor-alkali production uses, such as to reinforce cement. We’ve corrected HBN on this before – but you’ll likely never hear about this from them, because HBN’s agenda is singularly focused on PVC.
  • And most U.S. PVC producers rely on chlorine produced from non-asbestos membrane cells for the majority of chlorine feedstocks.  The fact is, PVC resin production uses only 20 percent of the yield from U.S. chlor-alkali production, and the other 80 percent is used in a host of other products, including pulp and paper, food additives, pharmaceuticals, and textiles. Consumers of caustic soda and chlorine not used in PVC rely more heavily on the asbestos diaphragm technology HBN criticizes. These industries include metals processing, water treatment, and wood pulp processing. 
  • Asbestos is highly regulated, and its use in chlorine production is heavily controlled to prevent workplace or environmental exposures.  And HBN predictably fails to mention that the limited use of asbestos in chlor-alkali production meets all EPA and OSHA regulations for handling and disposal, mitigating both worker and environmental exposure.

Flame Retardants

HBN wants you to think most plasticized PVC contains added flame retardants, but that’s not true. The chloride bound in the backbone of the vinyl molecule provides enough flame retardant to meet the needs of most plasticized vinyl applications.  And because of its low heat release and self-extinguishing characteristics, PVC has been widely shown to be safer in a house fire, as it can help give occupants more time to escape. 

Nevertheless, HBN’s study conveys the irresponsible impression that chemicals in PVC are uniquely harmful to the environment.  As an example, HBN demands a stricter standard on the use of antimony trioxide flame retardant in PVC than what is typically found in ordinary plastic water bottles. The group makes a laundry list of other alleged health risks without providing any corroborating evidence.  And its focus on halogenated flame retardants in asserting a perceived health risk regarding PVC is incredibly disingenuous, especially since most of these chemicals have been discontinued as part of the industry’s commitment to continued innovation.

Similarly, HBN’s assertion that burning PVC products is uniquely toxic is completely absurd. Burning anything- including wood- releases persistent and bioaccumulative toxic substances. Yet HBN makes no mention of this, and exclusively singles out PVC as part of its financially-driven campaign to mislead the public about the material. 


Today’s plasticized vinyl materials are designed to retain the plasticizer for decades of safe use. HBN tries desperately to position phthalates in PVC as harmful to consumers, but many of our nation’s very own regulatory agencies disagree with this misguided claim. Even the State of California – known for applying some of the toughest environmental regulations in the country – has issued Safe Use Determinations for listed plasticizers used in flooring, carpet, and roofing materials.  Phthalates are used in a wide variety of consumer products regulated by various government bodies, and certain phthalate use in consumer products has been extensively studied and regularly found to be safe.

To say the issue has been addressed and studied extensively would be a spectacular understatement. There are more than 1,000 articles on phthalates in the scientific literature. And HBN’s claim of a potential health risk is simply not credible, as it’s based exclusively on results of high-dose rodent experiments. Yet HBN continues to ignore the scientific facts that show direct correlation to humans is not possible because humans metabolize phthalates differently than rodents. As an analogy, raisins are toxic to dogs' kidneys but do not have a similar effect on humans. But no one is claiming we should stop feeding our children raisins because they make dogs sick.

HBN’s Recommendations

A pattern of omissions and misrepresentations is consistent throughout HBN’s carpet study. HBN’s assertions constitute a litany of scientifically unsound claims alleging consequences and links to various ailments – yet HBN can’t point to a single epidemiological study to support them.

Not surprisingly, they use this flawed data to create the impression that the current regulatory framework has gaps. But the regulatory framework HBN calls for is already in place.

Environmental regulators have extensively reviewed PVC products, and many are certified with Environmental Product Declarations, which help quantify a product’s overall environmental impact.

Worse, the ratings systems HBN recommends are decidedly less scientific. That’s because they eschew life cycle analysis – which is critical in establishing the sustainability of any product. 

And many of the green standards HBN touts fail to disclose important details regarding their evaluation process, raising appropriate questions regarding the scientific integrity of their results. Not coincidentally, the organizations backing these standards often produce documents like this one – replete with inaccuracies and unsubstantiated conclusions.

Similarly, HBN’s recent study isn’t based on any sort of rigorous scientific analysis. It is, however, a perfect example of the group’s decade-long, agenda-driven distortion effort to misinform the public about PVC. 

As we’ve said before: Everyone has the right to his or her own viewpoint. And everyone has the right to earn a living, as long as it’s within the law.  But those who mislead the public do not have the right to be taken seriously – and that’s especially true when representatives at HBN continue to intentionally conflate the facts to perpetuate misinformation about the topics they address. 

NYT Ignores Our Request to Address Misleading Video

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On 10/17, The New York Times posted a video that made a baseless claim about PVC - without citing any source to support it. 

The NYT also defied its own journalism responsibility to ensure balance by failing to include any comment from the PVC industry. 

We reached out privately with a letter to the NYT’s Executive Producer of VR, Ms. Marcelle Hopkins, addressing our concerns. But she ignored us. 

So we’re posting that letter here to ensure viewers have the facts. 

November 2, 2017

Ms. Marcelle Hopkins
Executive Producer, VR
The New York Times
620 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10018

Dear Ms. Hopkins,

A recent video installment of the New York Times Daily 360 series [“Ride a Weather Balloon Into (Near) Space”; 10/17] misleads viewers by irresponsibly claiming a connection between PVC production and the earth’s ozone layer – without identifying any source to support it.

The New York Times ignored basic journalism standards by failing to provide the public with any substantive facts to defend this claim. Instead, the narrator cites a mysterious and unnamed “study” to validate the assertion. What’s more, the New York Times defied its obligation to provide viewers with proper context and balance, which would have enabled them to evaluate the statement’s legitimacy based on a totality of the facts.  Instead, the narrator blindly makes the allegation, and falsely expects New York Times viewers to simply believe it at face value.

That doesn’t cut it, because readers and viewers of online news content demand more – and deserve more – from organizations that wish to be viewed with even a modicum of credibility.  

At issue is the narrator’s assertion that “a longstanding hole in the ozone layer had begun to close, but a recently released study found that new chemicals used for paint stripping and in PVC may set the process back by several decades.” That’s as specific as it gets. The information is presented as fact, yet the Times neglected to reveal the source of this information, or the chemical in question. Beyond these glaring omissions, no one from the New York Times reached out to the Vinyl Institute, the leading industry representative of U.S. PVC producers, to offer an opportunity to address or dispute the claim.

This isn’t just bad journalism – it’s a failure of the Times to uphold its own basic commitment to “truth” in journalism, to, “whatever the medium, tell our audiences the complete, unvarnished truth as best we can learn it.” This unfounded allegation about PVC production fails to meet that standard, and in doing so does a disservice to Times readers. As such, we ask the section time-stamped :50-:58 be immediately removed from the video, so that viewers are not further deceived by these misleading statements regarding PVC material.


Susan Wade
Vice President of Marketing and Communications
The Vinyl Institute


Correcting faulty news reports once more

Two outlets recently published false information about vinyl that require correction. Both articles missed key parts of the story – which the reporters could have easily found.

Our first stop is Wisconsin.  In a piece for WisCONTEXT, reporter Scott Gordon [The Emerging Evidence of BPA’s Effects On Human Development; 10/26] quotes a psychologist, Heather Molenda-Figueira, who falsely asserts that BPA is a component of PVC. It’s not. Period. BPA is a different compound altogether than PVC.  And to air this misrepresentation distorts the facts and deceives readers.

Mr. Gordon has an obligation to ensure the statements of those he interviews are factually sound before he publishes his stories. But he didn’t do that in this case. It wouldn’t have taken much effort on Mr. Gordon’s part to contact us on this point, and that simple action would have prevented the public from being misled. In the interest of providing readers accurate information, we trust Mr. Gordon will strike this reference and revise his article accordingly.


Our next stop is in Michigan, where a piece in Bridge Magazine by Chad Selweski [Chemical Valley and the threat to Michigan’s drinking water; 10/31] misleads readers about PVC and omits key facts. The article focuses on industrial manufacturers in Sarnia, Ontario, where Mr. Selweski cites a biologist who claims vinyl chloride used for “plastics and PVC pipe” could be a source of alleged ongoing emissions there.

There’s just one problem – there is no vinyl chloride or PVC production taking place in Sarnia. And there hasn’t been for nearly a decade, as the only PVC resin plant there closed back in in 2008.

But Mr. Selweski fails to disclose this to readers, and instead the article leads them to believe vinyl chloride for PVC production is causing emissions in that area – and raises responsible questions regarding the article’s other claims, and its overall credibility.  

Reporters should address these mistakes and work diligently to avoid similar errors in the future. It’s why Vinyl Verified exists – and we will continue to correct the record when articles misinform the public about vinyl and PVC moving forward.

Exposing DIPRA’s Latest Scheme to Disparage PVC Pipe

We learned recently that representatives at the Ductile Iron Pipe Research Association (DIPRA) have been contacting municipalities requesting rare pictures of broken PVC pipe.

Of course, it’s certainly possible DIPRA might be looking for these images to study why PVC pipe breaks are so uncommon. DIPRA is fully aware of the facts that prove PVC pipe’s unmatched durability in the installed environment, including extreme weather conditions. So it’s within the realm of possibility that DIPRA might be searching for these pictures to determine ways ductile iron pipe might emulate its performance in this regard. 

But our guess is that DIPRA will likely use them to do what it does best – distort the facts and continue to deceive the public about our material.

Here’s what DIPRA won’t tell you, if its representatives are able to find the pictures they’re desperately seeking, to further mislead the public about PVC pipe:

  • PVC pipe breaks are incredibly rare. DIPRA predictably won’t disclose that in the unusual instance when such breaks occur, it often has nothing to do with the integrity of the pipe itself. Improper installation is the leading cause. DIPRA doesn’t want you to know this, of course, because they want to mislead you to think the material is somehow inherently flawed. So we’ll make sure you have the facts. 
  • PVC pipe has twice the projected lifespan of ductile iron pipe. It is a non-corrosive material, unlike iron pipe, and PVC pipe has the lowest water main break rate of all pipe materials in North America.
  •  PVC pipe can withstand extreme temperatures.  Remember that time last winter when you were caught in horrible traffic, and late for work, because a water main broke in your area? Wasn’t that fun? Odds are that was an iron pipe that failed. Studies show PVC pipes offer a high degree of resilience in freezing conditions and even after 25 years, meet all new pipe requirements.
  • PVC pipe has a lower carbon footprint than ductile iron pipe, too.  PVC pipe is lighter to transport, requires less heavy machinery to install – and its longer lifespan means fewer repairs or replacements, resulting in lower carbon emissions.

Now, if DIPRA really wants to have an informed debate about the durability of pipe materials today, it might care to look at iron pipe failures.  Iron pipes have some of the highest break rates in North America, according to a study by the Buried Structures Laboratory at Utah State University. Not only that, but PVC has the lowest break rate of any pipe tested.


It’s always a safe bet that DIPRA won’t convey an accurate view of PVC pipe. We don’t expect the organization will ever acknowledge that PVC pipe is indeed the stronger, more affordable, more durable, and more eco-friendly, material option today.

But what is likely to happen is that DIPRA will continue to use discredited studies to distort the facts about PVC pipe. And it will do everything it can to try and hold on to iron pipe’s failing monopoly, as it attempts to block states from being allowed to even consider PVC pipe as a replacement material – which will only drive up costs for U.S. taxpayers.

But we will be there, every step of the way, to call DIPRA out – and ensure the facts about PVC pipe prevail.

Architect Magazine Refuses to Publish VI Letter-to-Editor Responding to Misleading Article

Architect Magazine Refuses to Publish VI Letter-to-Editor Responding to Misleading Article

On 8/17, Chris Bentley, a reporter with Architect Magazine (ARCHITECT), published a story that included an inaccurate statement about PVC. The article also quoted an individual with a history of misleading the public on PVC – without disclosing the financial motivations fueling his organization’s years-long distortion campaign against vinyl material. 

Yet when Dick Doyle, CEO of the Vinyl Institute (VI), submitted a Letter-to-the-Editor (LTE) to clarify the facts for ARCHITECT readers … ARCHITECT refused to run it.

Mr. Bentley’s original article incorrectly claimed some PVCs were “reinforced” with asbestos. The assertion is flatly untrue.  The story also quoted Jim Vallette of the Healthy Building Network (HBN), and positioned him as a credible source on PVC issues.  That’s wrong, too.  We’ve corrected Mr. Vallette and HBN multiple times in the past for conflating statistics and advancing misinformation about PVC in the discourse. What’s more, the article failed to acknowledge that Mr. Vallette’s organization markets anti-PVC business services, and has a financial incentive to make irresponsible claims about vinyl products.

Mr. Doyle’s LTE spelled out these facts. But the magazine ignored multiple requests to publish it, and instead issued a story correction. The wording of the correction, though, continued to leave readers with the misimpression that asbestos may found in certain vinyl products. And it avoided any reference to HBN’s anti-PVC business services, which would have given readers the chance to evaluate for themselves the reliability of Mr. Vallette’s positions.

After continued back and forth, ARCHITECT then offered to take an isolated quote from Mr. Doyle’s LTE challenging the asbestos claims, and insert it into the online article. (It’s worth noting the original story was entirely one-sided, and lacked any balance or perspective from industry when it originally published.)

But even with that modification, the story still failed to address the credibility issues confronting Mr. Vallette and HBN. And ARCHITECT remained defiant in denying Mr. Doyle the opportunity to clarify those facts for readers.

So, in the interest of transparency, we’ll publish Mr. Doyle’s LTE – which ARCHITECT refused to run – in its entirety here:  

Inaccurate Statements About PVC

Architect Magazine failed to disclose a conflict-of-interest of an agenda-driven opponent of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) featured in a recent story ("The EPA is Rolling Back Regulations on Potentially Harmful Chemicals," August 17, 2017). The author, Chris Bentley, also made several inaccurate statements regarding PVC material that must be corrected.

Jim Vallette of the Healthy Building Network is no expert on PVC.  In fact, he has a track record of making false claims about it – perhaps because he knows provocative statements about PVC, regardless of the merits, will attract greater publicity for himself and possibly increase revenue for his organization’s anti-PVC business services.

It’s unclear whether Mr. Bentley was fed misinformation by Mr. Vallette, or composed his misrepresentations about PVC and asbestos on his own.  Either way, we’ll be clear:   Asbestos is not used in PVC piping products or vinyl siding products, and it was voluntarily phased out of vinyl flooring products in the mid 1980’s.

We’re concerned Architect Magazine would source Mr. Vallette without also noting that his views against PVC are financially motivated. And we’re troubled Mr. Bentley would publish a story containing false information about PVC that egregiously misleads readers without first confirming the facts.

Readers deserve better.

By Richard Doyle, president & CEO of the Vinyl Institute



Healthy Building Network Is At It Again…

We recently learned that the Healthy Building Network (HBN), a group with a self-described mission to “phase-out PVC building products,” is developing a new subscription research program on the PVC supply chain, including chlorine and vinyl chloride monomer (VCM). Ironically -- some might say brazenly – HBN is seeking support from the PVC industry to fund it.

HBN has a long, undeniable history of distorting the facts on PVC.  We’ve documented them here, here, here, and here.  The group’s statements and baseless claims against our industry have revealed an extraordinary lack of factual understanding and credibility regarding important matters involving PVC.

Take, for example, HBN’s emphasis on global chlor-alkali processes, some of which around the world use asbestos and mercury during production. These processes are heavily regulated and have been proven safe.  But HBN has falsely claimed our industry is responsible for the majority of asbestos use in the United States. That, however, is not true, as some 80 percent of chlor-alkali production is used in a wide array of non-PVC products – including pharmaceuticals, water treatment, food additives, and other building material products.  In fact, the major use of asbestos today on a global basis is cement-asbestos board building materials and large diameter concrete drainage and sewer pipe.  In the United States, the use of asbestos in these materials has been discontinued decades ago, while other parts of the world still allow it. 

Despite these facts, HBN continues to advance inaccurate information in the discourse about our industry. We’ve corrected them before, yet they repeatedly deceive the public. Which raises a rather obvious question in the context of the group’s current research endeavor: If HBN truly cares about “accelerating the sun-setting of some high hazard substances,” as it has stated, why is it exclusively fixated on PVC? And what does that say about the group’s ability to be remotely independent about the way they collect, curate and present their findings on PVC?

What it tells us is that HBN has little interest in advancing the facts, and may be motivated more by establishing ways to profit off its anti-PVC campaigns – something we’ve exposed before here on VinylVerified.  

It should surprise no one that under HBN’s proposed subscriber agreement, participating organizations would provide information to the group to use as HBN sees fit.  This means that information volunteered as part of a good faith effort to build a better business could be used to further HBN’s ideological agenda – one openly hostile to the continued use of PVC products.

We should also point out that the data HBN seeks to collect, and have our industry finance, already exists.  IHS Markit, an independent, third-party organization with no ulterior or hidden agenda, conducts global assessments of the PVC resin, vinyl chloride monomers, and chlor-alkali industry.  And IHS Markit provides companies with unbiased data, contrary to what HBN would likely deliver.

Make no mistake: This purported olive branch by HBN is nothing more than an attempt to gain access and influence the decisions of our industry, and advance HBN’s broader mission to remove PVC from the marketplace. It is a common tactic used by many activist organizations.  It should be noted that HBN’s founder, Bill Walsh, is a Greenpeace alum – a group that has used many of the same maneuvers to achieve its ends, often at great expense to companies that choose to partner with them in good faith.

This isn’t about information. It’s about intimidation. HBN needs to prove that it is a responsible group committed to an open and transparent process that recognizes the industry’s achievements and focuses on continuous performance improvement, rather than eliminating  the PVC industry. This approach would help contributors be assured their money is being spent in good faith.