PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is a common, low-cost plastic used in tens of thousands of items, such as vinyl fabrics, paint, pipes, siding and plastic wrappers. When it gets turned into products, it’s almost always combined with chemicals and plasticizers – and these combinations make it bad for people and the planet. We decided to find a way to give members another option.
For MEC-label dry bags and PFDs, the switch to PVC-free materials started in 2005. Our watersports buyer worked hard to find substitute materials that deliver the performance, look, feel and function of PVC but without the environmental impacts.
MEC-label 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.