This brief article discusses the facts, the concerns, the risks, the advantages, and how we control and reduce any risk to health. Everything you need to know to make an informed decision.
uPVC, or un-plasticised polyvinyl chloride, is a type of plastic that is commonly used in the construction of hydroponic systems. It is a popular choice for use in hydroponics due to its durability, chemical resistance, and cost-effectiveness. But is it safe to use in hydroponics?
One concern that some people may have about using uPVC in hydroponics is that it can potentially leach chemicals into the nutrient solution. However, uPVC is a stable and non-toxic material that is not known to leach chemicals. In fact, it is commonly used in food and medical industries due to its low toxicity and chemical resistance. It is the "u" in uPVC (sometimes also called PVCu) that denotes the absence of potentially harmful plasticisers such as BPA and phthalates. So when discussing the safety of this material it’s critical to make a clear distinction between PVC and uPVC. Of the two, only uPVC should be considered safe and suitable for use in hydroponic systems. This is why there are so many conflicting articles on the subject.
Vertical Horizon Hydroponics Ltd, only uses uPVC sourced from high-grade material, that is produced as waste-material from UK window production, that gives us a specific and high grade material that would otherwise be destined for landfill. As good as recycled plastics may sound to conscientious consumers, their use has to be carefully considered when exposing it to our food chain. By carefully selecting our sources of recycled plastics from industrial processes rather than other recycled waste materials, we are able to be confident in the source and grade of our substrates and describe them as recycled, recyclable AND safe.
Another concern is the potential for uPVC to release harmful fumes when heated. However, uPVC is a stable material that does not produce harmful fumes when heated to normal operating temperatures. It is also resistant to most chemicals and UV radiation, making it a durable and long-lasting choice for use in hydroponics.
At Vertical Horizon Hydroponics, we have carefully optimised over 30 different production parameters of the forming process, in order to create a high-quality and repeatable process that does not burn any plastic during manufacture. This is a recognised concern of home-made towers constructed from uPVC that has led to questions over the use of uPVC in hydroponics, which is why we have focussed carefully on these aspects in the creation of our products, to ensure safety for our customers.
Overall, uPVC can be safely and effectively used as a material for use in hydroponics, so long as the manufacturing processes of forming the material are closely controlled, and that the supply chain and origin of the source material is understood. Under such conditions, it is durable, chemical resistant, and does not leach chemicals or produce harmful fumes. When properly cared for, uPVC can provide a long-lasting and reliable foundation for a successful hydroponic system.