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Playworld Goes PVC Free

Playworld Systems expects to be PVC-free by October 1, 2008 when its new line of playgrounds becomes available. Photo: Playworld Systems' Rope Bridge, part of the PlayWeb climbing system.

Playworld Systems, a leading manufacturer of playgrounds and playground equipment based in Lewisburg, Pa., announced in an Aug. 11, 2008 statement it has abandoned the use of polyvinyl chloride plastic (PVC) in its products.

"We have a responsibility to the environment and the children who use our playgrounds to do everything in our power to use the most environmentally-friendly substances" said Matt Miller, president of Playworld Systems.

PVC is prevalent in cars, toys, housing and numerous consumer products. It is used on playgrounds because it is inexpensive, fairly durable, resilient and moderately slip resistant. It also comes in a variety of colors and insulates equipment from extreme hot or cold temperatures. The main concern with PVC is dioxin, a potent carcinogen produced in the production of PVCs.

In LASN's Dec. 2007 Playground Safety column "PVCs on the Playground" Tim Madeley, owner and president of BigToys, Inc., reported his company removed all PVCs from its playground equipment in 2004 in favor of more eco-friendly alternatives, such as thermoplastic and reinforced recycled plastic, which has been used on public playgrounds in Europe for years.
He noted the concerns over dioxin with PVCs, but also polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) when PVC burns, which is a concern, as playgrounds are sometimes the target for malicious mischief. He also noted the leaching of additives used to soften the coating.

"Moving away from PVC is the best choice for environmentally conscientious play facilities," said Mr. Miller of Playworld Systems.

Playworld is replacing its PVC with thermoset polyethylene (PE), which, according to the company, produces no volatile organic compounds or dioxins in its manufacturing, plus it is 100 percent recyclable.

"While we will incur a short term capital cost, we will be providing a more environmentally stable line of products with additional performance benefits."

Mr. Miller described PE-produced products and coatings as tough, durable and an environmentally friendly alternative. He said PE will stay clean longer because it is less porous than PVC, and its textured finish offers slip resistance.

Playworld Systems is a family-owned company with 30 years of experience in recreation products. Its five brands are PlayDesigns(R), Playworld(TM), Climbing Boulders(TM), Woodward(R) Ramps & Rails, and LifeTrail(R). For more information, visit

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December 7, 2019, 4:12 am PDT

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