Polyolefin Vs. PVC

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A pipe made from PVC being installed in a building

There are potentially hundreds, if not thousands, of different types of plastics available in the world today. They are manufactured all across the world and used for various products including packaging, shrink wrap, toys, furniture and even beauty products. Of course, sorting through all the different names for plastics and polymers, such as polyolefin or PVC, can be difficult.


Polyolefin is an organic thermoplastic polymer that has a waxy texture. The term literally means "oil-like." This plastic is created through a complex technique known as polymerization. It is odorless and non-porous, making it ideal for use in various items including structural plastics, various industrial products, various consumer goods and most commonly, in food packaging as a type of shrink wrap.


PVC is the abbreviation for polyvinyl chloride. PVC is also a type of polymer and is one of the most commonly used types of plastic throughout the world. This thermoplastic is composed of 57 percent chlorine and 43 percent carbon, making it less dependable upon non-renewable resources such as crude oils or natural gases. PVC is used in a plethora of products from beauty supplies to furniture, packaging and as shrink wrap.


One of the biggest similarities between polyolefin and PVC is the fact that both plastics can be used in a variety of products: beauty supplies, furniture, packaging and shrink wrap. Both products can last for several years, without degrading in any way. Lastly, both PVC and polyolefin are resistant against cleaning fluids, automative gases and marine gases.


Though both serve many purposes, some products benefit from being made from polyolefin rather than PVC. For example, shrink wrap made from polyolefin is preferred because it does not become brittle as it ages, nor does it turn yellow or break down, as opposed to PVC shrink wrap. Furthermore, during PVC production, odor and smoke are produced in large numbers, which create deposits on the PVC during packaging; this same issue does not happen with polyolefin production. On the other hand, in terms of other products, PVC can withstand longer periods of UV exposure without degrading.


Jennifer Gittins

Jennifer Gittins began freelance writing in 2006. Her articles have appeared on the websites of "Wall Street Journal" and "USA Today." Gittins enjoys covering a variety of topics, including pet care, green living, interior design, architecture and gardening. She is pursuing a bachelor's degree in interior design and an associate's degree in architecture.