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PVC Resolution 

Berkeley Plastics Task Force

 

WHEREAS: The Community Environmental Advisory Commission of The City of Berkeley, California is a standing Commission to advise the Berkeley City Council and the citizens of Berkeley on issues dealing with the environment.

WHEREAS: PVC requires a variety of toxic additives such as heavy metals and phthalate esters to maintain certain properties and avoid degradation. These additives, which are not tightly bound to the polymer, can and do leach out during product use. Lead, used as a stabilizer in many PVC children's products, has been known as a serious, yet preventable, health hazard to children for years. The phthalate esters, used to soften PVC products, can compose as much as 40% by weight of those products. The phthalates have been associated with adverse health effects in laboratory experiments ranging from tumorogenisis and kidney and liver lesions to reproductive system anomalies and hormone disruption.

WHEREAS: The Community Environmental Advisory Commission of The City Of Berkeley, California advocates dealing with solid waste with the following means in descending order: source reduction, reuse, and recycling.

WHEREAS: Polyvinyl Chloride is a problematic material for recyclers and program managers. It is a significant contaminant for other resins such as Polyethylene Terephthalate for which unlike Polyvinyl Chloride has well developed and easily accessible markets. Its physical and chemical characteristics such melting point, etc., and its use in similar packaging, and the awareness that one bottle made of Polyvinyl Chloride can ruin a ton of Polyethylene Terephthalate creates a significant obstacle in implementing a cost effective plastic recycling program. Solutions to these problem include other expenses such as public education, the expense of hiring additional people to sort the material or the expense of obtaining mechanical sorters that rely on x-ray detectors to identify Polyvinyl Chloride.

WHEREAS: Polyvinyl Chloride is a problematic material for processors of it and other recyclable materials. Exposure of Polyvinyl Chloride to intense heat [incineration and smelting and accidental fires] will result in the production of dioxin. Many forms of packaging such as aluminum cans, tin-plated steel cans, glass require an exposure to intense heat to be refined and reformed into a new product. If Polyvinyl Chloride is present either as a contaminant or as a constituent (as in insulated copper) wire a health risk could ensue.

WHEREAS: The production of Polyvinyl Chloride resin and the recycling and disposal of that resin poses significant risks to the public and to the environment. The Polyvinyl Chloride industry is the primary source of dioxin in the environment. Thirty-two percent of the chlorine produced in the United States is used in the production of Polyvinyl Chloride. Chlorine is an attributed cause of the depletion of the ozone layer.

WHEREAS: Polyvinyl Chloride is a component of medical waste which is commonly disposed through incineration. This poses a risk of releasing dioxins into the environment. If landfilled, Polyvinyl Chloride can contribute many bad environmental factors into the landfill Leachate. Such chemicals include Di[2-ethylhexyl] phthalate which will harm the male reproductive system and Diethyl Phthalate which will harm the reproductive system, liver and pituitary glands and potentially cause damage to adults which suffer exposure while in the prenatal stage.

WHEREAS: The chemicals that leach from Polyvinyl Chloride into the landfill can also migrate into the food products packaged in Polyvinyl Chloride thus exposing the consumers of these products to a myriad of toxic effects.

WHEREAS: Low-income communities and communities of color receive a disproportionate negative impact on their health and environment from the manufacture and disposal of Polyvinyl Chloride. From communities near the production plants in Louisiana to incinerators which burn Polyvinyl Chloride in East Oakland, California, this is an issue of environmental racism and injustice.

WHEREAS: The American Public Health Association, The California Medical Association and Physicians For Social Responsibility support a zero dioxin exposure policy.

AND WHEREAS: The United States Environmental Protection Agency has linked dioxin to cancer, reproductive, developmental and immunological diseases and is highly toxic in minute doses of exposure.

THEREFORE: The Community Environmental Advisory Commission of The City Of Berkeley, California finds that Polyvinyl Chloride is an impediment to establishing a sustainable economy, a risk to the public health, a menace to the environment and a just society. The Community Advisory Environmental Commission of The City Of Berkeley, California believes that reduction at the source of manufacture is the only safe and effective way of mitigating the risks of discarding Polyvinyl Chloride and urges all communities and businesses to work towards the elimination of the manufacture and use of that substance.

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