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Is your resin a virgin- should you care?

Date Added: July 30, 2009 12:21:21 AM
       This post might not be what you are thinking, but in the plastics world virginity makes a big difference.  In other parts of our lives I suppose it does also, but at least in my life it was never a life or death difference.

      Now imagine you are a beautiful Koi swimming around in your new pond, made by your loving owner using a liner that contains anything other than 100% virgin resins.  Things like post-consumer recycled content (that all those shouting that we need to be green, praise) would most likely leave you and all your friends belly up in no time at all.  What about that water bottle you are drinking from, do you know what would happen if it were made from anything containing less than 100% virgin resins?  Or the food containers we are all “popping into the microwave” these days?  Hmmm, now there is some food for thought!

      Today in the plastics industries, we are scrambling to make everything we can using recycled content, regrind, post-consumer recycled content, all in an effort to be more green, to help our customers achieve LEED certified building status, for instance.  This is all beyond terrific, because any plastics that can be reused in applications where nothing and nobody gets hurt, makes an enormous difference for our planet.

      But many products are being used every day, containing post-consumer recycled content in applications where they are not good choices, and some of these can have significant negative effects on us and our pocketbooks.  Have you ever dug up any plastic that has been buried in the backyard for a while, and it has pretty much disintegrated?  That is called Construction and Agricultural Grade Polyethylene (often referred to as Visqueen or C&A film).  This stuff is made from the cheapest resins any producer can buy or find at the time of manufacture, and can even contain pinholes and runs.  Is this a problem you ask?

     Considering some of the places it gets used, the answer is a resounding YES!!  For example, most building codes across this country do not require anything more than this grade of plastic for basement and under-slab moisture and vapor retarders that go under our homes and buildings to help keep moisture, and vapors such as Radon, Methane, VOC’s out of our living spaces.

     Most homeowner’s insurance policies no longer cover mold or mildew damage unless there is an active leak proven.  Many people did not even know when this change took place.  Even fewer people know that for a few cents per square foot more, vapor retarders that block virtually all of the moisture and harmful vapors from coming into homes have been on the market for a good many years.   Had they been used, who knows how much in claims could have been avoided, and we could all still enjoy this coverage that once was standard. And how many fewer people would be sick???  What is that cost?

      To sum this up for this post, knowing whether your resin is a virgin can be pretty important.  For the moisture/vapor barrier application, I vote that you only bury virgins!  And then only the ones made for this purpose that pass ASTM E-1745 Class A.  Watch for more posts on virginity coming soon!