Mar 24th, 24

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PVA (Polyvinyl Alcohol): Properties, Applications, And Hidden Danger to the Environment

By Son Vu

PVA plastic, or Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVOH), is a biodegradable plastic, derived from acetic acid and vinyl alcohol. With special properties, PVA is becoming an important material in many industries and has great development potential for green life. In this article, EQUO will help you better understand what PVA plastic is, including its definition, properties, applications, its potential danger to the environment. 

1. Overview of PVA plastic

PVA plastic is a synthetic material with many important applications in life. Thanks to special properties such as the ability to form films, good adhesion, flexibility, and chemical resistance, PVA is used in many different fields such as industry, construction, textiles, cosmetics, medicine, etc.

1.1. Definition

PVA plastic, also known as Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVOH), is a synthetic polymer that is soluble in water. It is made up of vinyl alcohol monomer units bonded together.

Overview of PVA plastic

Source: Internet

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1.2. Properties of PVA plastic

PVA plastic has many properties, including:

  • Film-forming properties: PVA can create thin, tough, and flexible films. PVA membrane has good gas, water, and grease resistance.
  • Adhesive ability: PVA has good adhesion to various materials, including paper, wood, metal, plastic, and fabric.
  • Durability: PVA has high toughness, helping it to withstand impact and friction well.
  • Chemical resistance: PVA has good resistance to a variety of chemicals, including acids, alkalis, and solvents.
Properties of PVA plastic

Source: Internet

With such special properties, PVA plastic will continue to play an important role in many fields, improving the quality of human life.

2. Advantages and disadvantages of PVA plastic

Thanks to advantages such as water solubility and high safety, PVA is used in fields such as glue production, textiles, medicine, etc. However, besides these advantages, PVA has some disadvantages that need to be considered before use.

2.1. Advantages of PVA plastic

PVA plastic is highly appreciated for the following advantages:

  • Water solubility: PVA is commercially confirmed as compostable in water conditions; however, that requires more work than we expected.
  • Easy to use: No need to mix additional hardware, mixing PVA is simple, just stir well in water and easily adjust viscosity according to usage needs.
  • Heat resistance: PVA can withstand high heat and is stable in harsh temperature environments, making the product durable and saving repair costs.
Advantages of PVA plastic

Source: Internet

2.2. Disadvantages of PVA plastic

Despite possessing many outstanding advantages, PVA plastic still has certain limitations that need to be considered before use:

  • Hard to completely decompose: Although advertised as capable of biodegrading in aquatic environments, this process requires specific conditions. For PVA to fully biodegrade, it needs the presence of specific microorganisms and enzymes to assist in the breakdown process. Additionally, it also requires a certain duration in wastewater treatment facilities. In reality, PVA plastic (or the detergent pods commonly used) does not have the ability to biodegrade on its own; it merely breaks down into smaller plastic particles, silently impacting the environment.
  • Sensitivity to humidity: Due to its water-soluble nature, PVA plastic is quite sensitive to environmental humidity.
  • Special storage requirements: PVA needs to be stored in an airtight environment or in places where air can be well controlled.
  • High cost: Compared to other popular plastics, the cost of PVA is significantly higher. This may be a barrier for some users, especially when large quantities are needed.
Disadvantages of PVA plastic

Source: Internet

When choosing PVA plastic, prioritize products with clear origins and good quality. Although PVA plastic has many advantages, at the same time, there are still many disadvantages. Compostable and plant-based products are still the optimal choice for the environment. If possible, prioritize using home-compostable products to best protect the environment.

3. Potential of PVA plastic

PVA plastic has great development potential in the future. The demand for PVA plastic is increasing thanks to its special characteristics.

3.1. Market demand is increasing

According to the Vietnam Plastic Association, the global PVA plastic market is expected to reach a value of 2.5 billion USD by 2028, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.5% from 2023 to 2028.

3.2. Wide applicability

Due to its strong characteristics as a plastic, PVA is widely utilized across industries and is often labeled as "eco-friendly," contributing to its growing commercialization.

While PVA plastic is celebrated for its remarkable properties, there is a prevalent misunderstanding regarding its compostability and environmental friendliness. 

Although its demand is fueled by its perceived non-toxic and biodegradable attributes, the true environmental impact of PVA plastic is frequently disregarded. Its popularity among consumers seeking safer alternatives further drives its widespread use.

However, the reality remains that PVA plastic falls short of being genuinely eco-friendly, presenting challenges to its future perception and utilization.

4. Applications of PVA plastic in life

Thanks to outstanding properties such as durability, water solubility, and user safety, PVA is applied in many different fields.

4.1. Food packaging

PVA plastic is increasingly popular in food packaging production, with many advantages over traditional packaging. With fewer toxins, a reduced risk of toxic substances in food, PVA plastic contributes to reducing waste and protecting the environment. At the same time, PVA plastic also has high durability and good food preservation ability, keeps food fresh longer, and is suitable for a variety of foods, bringing convenience and efficiency in preservation.

Food packaging

Source: Internet

Although PVA is highly regarded for its environmental friendliness and biodegradability, the conditions required for its decomposition are quite specific. Currently, most wastewater treatment plants lack the necessary conditions to fully break down products made from PVA. As a result, a significant portion of PVA plastic remains as residue in the form of microplastics scattered throughout the environment, causing serious environmental harm.

This is why products made from natural materials, completely free from plastic, and home-compostable hold a special place in the hearts of consumers. These products ensure safety for both health and the environment, as well as the ability to minimize negative impacts on the ecosystem.

EQUO: Safe sugarcane bagasse food container set for green living

EQUO is proud to be a pioneer in the field of manufacturing food containers, straws, knife sets, spoons, forks, etc. from natural materials such as bagasse, coffee, rice, coconut, etc. EQUO products ensure safety for health, are environmentally friendly, and are completely compostable.

To further help food service businesses with their sustainability journey, EQUO offers a variety of Dishware made from sugarcane fiber. This is considered a renewable, compostable, and sustainable raw material. The advantages of sugarcane fiber as a tree-free paper include its robust nature, its versatility of uses for packaging, and its breathable, water-resistant qualities. EQUO’s dishware product line includes food containers, bowls, plates, and trays that are:

  • Plastic-free.
  • Durable in liquid for up to 2 hours.
  • Leak-proof.
  • Microwave-safe & heat-resistant up to 100°C/212°F.
  • Compostable within 6 months.

Tested and certified by BPI, BRCS, and DIN, they’re suitable for different uses and occasions as they come in a variety of sizes and capacities, including for food service takeaways, picnics, parties, events, and more!

Let's join hands with EQUO to protect the environment and work towards a green future for ourselves and the next generation! Please refer to our other products at:

4.2. Glue

PVA plastic is a special glue because of its water solubility and biodegradability. Thanks to these properties, it is widely used in many different fields, from wood glue, and craft glue to pressure-sensitive glue.

PVA glue is the most popular glue for gluing wood, from natural wood to industrial wood. PVA glue can bond well with different types of wood, creating a durable and water-resistant bond. It is also highly appreciated for its environmental friendliness, ease of cleaning, and health safety, especially in educational environments.


Source: Internet

4.3. Building materials

In construction, PVA plastic paint is increasingly popular, with many advantages compared to traditional paint. Unlike oil-based paint, PVA plastic paint releases less volatile organic compounds, improves indoor air quality, and is easier to clean and less toxic. In addition, PVA plastic is also used to produce self-healing paint, capable of self-repairing minor damage.

Building materials

Source: Internet

4.4. Textile

Research from the University of Manchester has created a smart fabric from PVA plastic that can change color according to temperature. This fabric promises to bring optimal comfort to the wearer and the ability to adapt perfectly to the surrounding environment. Besides, PVA also contributes to creating self-cleaning, hygroscopic, and biodegradable fabrics, widely used in the production of clothes and diapers. With flexibility and diversity, PVA opens the door to creativity for the textile industry, aiming to develop environmentally friendly products.


Source: Internet

4.5. Cosmetics

PVA is added to cosmetics to act as a film-forming agent that moisturizes and protects the skin from external factors. It also helps increase viscosity and makes cosmetics smoother and easier to apply. PVA also helps bind other ingredients in cosmetics, creates a fine foam in products such as facial cleansers and shower gels, and helps emulsify water-insoluble ingredients, creating a smooth and uniform product. best.


Source: Internet

5. Be Smart Green Consumers

Through this article, EQUO hopes you have gained a better understanding of PVA plastic, a versatile material with many notable advantages such as ease of use, affordability, and safety. Thanks to these benefits, PVA plastic is increasingly being used across various fields, from construction to industrial applications and daily life.

However, due to limitations in its ability to naturally decompose, PVA plastic remains a concern for consumers, especially when it comes to items related to food. Strong marketing emphasizing its biodegradability, while the reality of PVA decomposition requires much more complex conditions, has inadvertently "greenwashed" this type of plastic material. With limited infrastructure to handle PVA, numerous PVA plastic products still end up in landfills, breaking down into microplastics and directly affecting the health and living environment of various organisms, including humans.

Therefore, to ensure safety, it's essential to seek out products sourced from natural materials, free from plastic, and capable of completely decomposing in nature. EQUO takes pride in offering genuinely environmentally friendly products, completely free from plastic and home-compostable, such as straws, utensils, and food packaging. Be smart green consumers and make the right choices to ensure the health and well-being not only of ourselves but also of our planet.

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