PVC is primarily produced as a rigid or unplasticized polymer (RPVC) or as a flexible plastic (uPVC). Flexible, plasticized or regular PVC is softer and more amenable to bending than uPVC due to the addition of plasticizers like phthalates such as diisononyl phthalate or DINP. Flexible PVC is commonly used in construction as insulation on electrical wires or in flooring for homes, hospitals, schools, and other areas where a sterile environment is necessary. Rigid PVC is also used in construction as pipe for plumbing and siding that is commonly called vinyl in the United States. It is also used for bottles, other non-food packaging, and cards (such as credit or membership cards). It is also used imitation leather, signage, phonograph records, inflatable products, and many applications where it is used as a replacement for rubber.
Pure polyvinyl chloride is a white, brittle solid generally delivered as powder or pellets. It is insoluble in alcohol but slightly soluble in tetrahydrofuran.
PVC is manufactured from petroleum. The production process also uses sodium chloride. Recycled PVC is broken down into powder or small chips with the impurities removed. The resulting product is refined to make pure white PVC. It can be recycled approximately seven times. Its lifespan is about 140 years.
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