Environmental and health risks associated with PVC have led us to source alternative materials for our drybags and PFDs. The new materials function just as well, without all the environmental nastiness.
Polyvinyl chloride, known as "PVC" or simply as "vinyl", is a common compound used in thousands of products. But for us and the planet, it's bad stuff. During manufacture it produces potent carcinogens and toxins including dioxins, chlorine residue, and heavy-metal pollutants. Over their lifespan, PVC products can off-gas and leak some of their dangerous additives. PVC is difficult to recycle; most of it ends up in landfills. When burned, it releases further dioxins and gases such as hydrogen chloride.
MEC has worked hard to source and produce other materials for our drybags and PFDs. We've found these materials deliver the look, feel, and function of PVC without the risks to health and environment.
The first MEC-brand PFD that uses PVC-free foam took a year and a half to reach production. As the first PFD manufacturer to use cross-linked PE (polyethylene) foam, we invested considerable time and money to get it approved for use. The foam meets all UL and ULC testing standards and exceeds many of them. It's lighter, more buoyant, better aging, and, best of all, doesn't require the same problematic chemicals in manufacture, produces no dioxins if burnt, and is easier to recycle than PVC foams. We think the benefits are such a good thing that we've made it available to any other manufacturer who wants to use it.