When considering vinyl for any project, it’s crucial to get the facts. Don’t rule out a vinyl window based on misinformation or outdated facts. The building products industry, like most, has had significant advancements in technology with the environment in mind. Vinyl isn’t dangerous or harmful. Understand the truth regarding these common myths about vinyl.
Myth 1. Vinyl is not recyclable
TRUTH: Vinyl is a thermoplastic. Thus, it can melt and repeatedly remold with limited loss. Vinyl scraps salvaged from the manufacturing process contribute 1 billion+ pounds of material to various products each year. About 99% of all manufactured vinyl goes into multiple products. Therefore, only 1% is waste material.
Additionally, an estimated 18 million pounds of post-consumer vinyl is recycled annually. So the truth is, one can find recycled vinyl anywhere from fences to pool liners and various other applications. For more about how vinyl is produced and used in multiple window applications, see our premium vs. bargain vinyl window article.
Myth 2. Vinyl is a significant source of dioxin (bad for the environment)
TRUTH: Dioxin is an unwanted by-product of incineration and industrial processes. However, dioxin levels in the atmosphere have been declining for more than 30 years, according to the EPA. During this time, the production and recycling of vinyl have more than tripled. So the truth is, vinyl is a minimal source of dioxin. So much so, that levels in the environment would be essentially unchanged even if vinyl never existed.
Myth 3. Vinyl is dangerous in building fires
TRUTH: The most significant hazards to humans in a building fire are heat and carbon monoxide emittance. But, carbon monoxide is produced in abundance by virtually all burning materials. And the truth is this means vinyl windows as well. Vinyl will melt. However, a vinyl polymer is 57% salt. Salt, by its nature, resists combustion. Therefore, vinyl will not fuel a fire.
Additionally, vinyl may help slow down fires and saves lives. Vinyl is one of the few materials meeting the stringent National Electrical Code of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA.) The NFPA has approved vinyl for insulating electrical and data transmission cables and uses in the interior of airplanes.
Myth 4. Synthetic materials, like vinyl and other plastics, are bad for the planet
All materials, both natural and artificial, have an environmental impact. A 2014 AAMA study found that vinyl offers ecological benefits equal to or better than those of other composite building materials. For more info about vinyl and composite windows, this article compares vinyl windows to fiberglass windows.
These debunked myths and truth about vinyl windows do not mean it is a solution for every case. See our article on the pros and cons of vinyl windows.
The American Architectural Manufacturer’s Association (AAMA) is the leading trade association representing window and manufacturers and their suppliers. Their members address issues of critical importance, share experience and knowledge and participate in efforts to shape the future for the industry. Also, to learn more about AAMA, please visit the association’s website.