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PVC-Free Materials

PVC can be bad stuff for people and the planet, so we're finding ways to get it out of our products. The alternative materials we're using in our dry bags, waterproof duffels, and PFDs function just as well, without all the environmental nastiness.

 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 stuff for us and the planet.

When PVC is manufactured, it produces potent carcinogens and toxins including dioxins, chlorine residue, and heavy-metal pollutants. Over their lifespan, PVC products can off-gas and leak dangerous additives. PVC is also difficult to recycle; most of it ends up in landfills. When burned, it releases further dioxins and gases such as hydrogen chloride.

Finding Alternatives

We work hard to produce other materials for products such as drybags and PFDs, and 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 drybags and waterproof duffels 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 in the highest volume fabric, so they weigh less, are easier to pack, and have a lower overall footprint.

The one part of our Scully Duffel that's not PVC-free is the purge valve, which is hard PVC. 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.

For drybags, PVC is still the industry standard, so having a PVC-free alternative is a big deal. Alternative materials cost significantly more, so only companies with a commitment to sustainability choose to use them. We encourage our partner brands to adapt alternatives, and certainly use them ourselves. The only exceptions are where an alternative material simply doesn't exist.

We've invested a lot of time and money into finding ways to get PVC out of the things we design and make. For more details on how we reduce our environmental impact, read the design section of our Accountability Report.