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PVC-Free Materials

PVC can be bad stuff for people and the planet, so we've been finding ways to get it out of our products.

 Chilko Lake, B.C – Photo: Steve Ogle

PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is a common, low-cost plastic used in tens of thousands of products including plastic wrappers, vinyl fabrics, paint, pipes, and siding. It's all around us. Without additives or contaminants, pure PVC is actually non-toxic, but when turned into products, it's almost exclusively combined with chemicals and plasticizers. These combinations make it bad for us and the planet.

Our solution

In 2005, we challenged our watersports buyer to get PVC out of MEC dry bags and PFDs, and to find a substitute with the performance features of PVC, but without the environmental impacts. We've developed materials that deliver the look, feel, and function of PVC without the risks to health and environment.

Our PFDs use PVC-free foam, and our dry bags and waterproof duffles are made of polyurethane coated nylon or polyester. These materials don't use chlorine-based chemicals and don't cause heavy-metal pollution. As an added benefit, our PVC-free alternative fabrics for dry bags require less material, so they weigh less, are easier to pack, and have a lower overall footprint.

We still use hard PVC in some of our products. Hard PVC has fewer eco-hazardous plasticizers than soft PVC and is fully recyclable. But if a suitable alternative for hard PVC is found, we'll investigate that material, too.