Software maker Microsoft Corp. said Dec. 7 that it is phasing out PVC in its packaging, the latest in a string of retailers, tech firms and health-care companies publicly pledging to move away from vinyl in certain applications.
A vinyl industry spokesman said the decision was ``based on misinformation,'' and pointed out that PVC use has continued to grow.
Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft said it would eliminate PVC packaging by year-end, either redesigning packaging to eliminate the vinyl clamshells or switching to PET. The company said it has replaced 361,000 pounds of PVC since July.
Others are taking similar steps. Hospital chain Catholic Healthcare West last month signed a $70 million contract for PVC-free intravenous bags, and said it was the first major integrated supply deal to call for PVC elimination.
Kaiser Permanente plans to stop using vinyl in new construction over the next decade, and retailer Crabtree & Evelyn is developing a time line for a phaseout, according to the Center for Health, Environment & Justice, which made the announcement jointly with Microsoft.
The Falls Church, Va.-based group launched a campaign a year ago to get the software maker and others to stop using PVC in packaging.
The center and some other environmental groups argue that PVC is the worst plastic for the environment, because it releases dioxins when it is produced or burned, and can leach phthalates from flexible medical applications like IV bags. California lists a common phthalate used in PVC bags as a reproductive toxicant, for example.
The Arlington, Va.-based Vinyl Institute, however, called the Microsoft decision misguided, and said that there are many factors in dioxin emissions. Dioxin emissions have dropped 90 percent since 1987, while vinyl production in the United States rose 60 percent between 1992 and 2004, to 16 billion pounds, VI said.
``It's unfortunate when companies make decisions based on misinformation, which this almost certainly is,'' said VI spokesman Allen Blakey. The decisions have not made a dent in PVC industry growth, he said.
The Center for Health, Environment & Justice said other firms have made recent decisions not to use vinyl, including Hewlett Packard Co., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. - which said it would phase out PVC in private-label packaging within two years - Johnson & Johnson and carpet maker Shaw Industries.