What is PVC made of?

The chemical process for making PVC involves taking the simplest unit, called the monomer, and linking these monomer molecules together in the polymerisation process. Long molecular chains are formed called polymers (which are also called macromolecules).

This is the case for PVC, which is made from vinyl chloride monomer known usually by its initials VCM through polymerisation. Some monomers exist in the form of reactive gaseous chemical substances, and some of these may cause health hazards when in direct contact with humans. In these cases they are manufactured and processed under strict control for health, safety and environmental protection. On the other hand, polymers such as PVC, which are manufactured from monomers through polymerisation, are solid and chemically stable substances, therefore do not affect human health. VCM, which is the raw material for PVC, is a gas at ambient temperature but is usually stored in liquid form under pressure. Ethylene and chlorine are raw materials for PVC. Upstream industries are those that provide these materials and include producers of basic petrochemicals (sometimes known as feedstocks'), which supply ethylene, and the chlor-alkali (caustic soda) industry, which supplies chlorine.