Confused about PVA and PVOH? Let's separate fact from fiction...

Confused about PVA and PVOH? Let's separate fact from fiction...

First, let us explain what PVA and PVOH actually are. PVOH and PVA are very similar terms that stand for the same thing: Polyvinyl Alcohol.

Polyvinyl Alcohol is a water-soluble synthetic polymer, meaning it's a man-made material that readily dissolves in water. It's commonly used in various industrial and consumer applications due to its unique properties:

  • It has no colour or smell
  • It can create thin, flexible films when dried
  • It has adhesive/binding properties, useful in various applications
  • It can thicken liquids and act as a stabiliser in various products

Here are some of the common uses of PVOH:

  • Papermaking: Improves paper strength and printability
  • Textile Warp Sizing: Strengthens yarn during weaving
  • Adhesives: Used in wood glues and other adhesive formulations
  • Food Additives: Used as a thickener and stabiliser in certain food products
  • Films and Coatings: Used in various film and coating applications
  • 3D Printing Filaments: Used in some 3D printing filaments as a water-soluble support material
  • Laundry Detergent Pods, Laundry Detergent Sheets and Dishwasher Pods: Used in some pods to create the dissolvable pod casing and used in Laundry Detergent Sheets to hold the ingredients together

    Simple Living Eco Best Laundry Detergent SheetsSimple Living Eco Dishwasher Pods


    You may have come across or believe some claims regarding PVA/PVOH used in laundry detergent pods, Laundry Detergent Sheets and Dishwasher Pods that may have raises some concerns so we’d like to run through those with some established facts from the American Cleaning Institute (ACI) to ensure our consumers can make informed choices:

    False Claim #1: PVA/PVOH is plastic that masquerades as biodegradable.

    The Facts: The American Cleaning Institute (ACI) disputes this. They point out a crucial distinction – the grade of PVA used in laundry detergent pods (and therefore Laundry Sheets and Dishwasher Pods) is specifically designed to dissolve completely upon contact with water and biodegrade within hours at wastewater treatment facilities. This process breaks down the PVA into harmless components.

    False Claim #2: PVA/PVOH contributes to microplastic pollution in our waterways.

    The Facts: The ACI argues against this. Microplastics are generally defined as plastic particles less than 5mm in size. The PVA used in detergent pods dissolves completely in water rendering the "microplastic" claim inaccurate.

    False Claim #3: The PVA biodegradation process is not reliable in all wastewater treatment plants.

    The Facts: While acknowledging the need for efficient wastewater treatment, the ACI emphasizes that most modern facilities are well-equipped to handle PVA biodegradation Additionally, regulations and standards are constantly evolving to ensure optimal wastewater treatment.

    A link to the full report by ACI can be found here 

    Please be assured that PVOH’s properties of water solubility and biodegradability distinguish it from harmful microplastics, making it a more environmentally friendly choice. There is ongoing research and development to find even better alternative that could enhance environmental sustainability and performance and we are committed to innovation and improvement and aim to find a solution that maximises both effectiveness and environmental responsibility. 

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