New information on pvc.
I have ordered some new pvc sleeves from Walvis plastics over here in Holland. And I also ordered some from another source. Guess what! They are both marketed to be made of pvc but to the feel they are different and they also have a different smell AND shade. One product has this blueish colour and the other product is completely colourless. Both products smell like pvc (that distinctive plastic odeur) but there is a difference. So my guess would be the pvc formulas for these two products are different. Maybe one of the products doesn’t harm our records at all and maybe the other will. Not instantly but in the long run. In Europe pvc compounds are all subject to strickt manufacturing rules. Some softeners and other additives in the previous compound(s) are no longer allowed in new formulas. So it can very well be that the new product does not harm our records. Or another nasty side effect might appear in the long run, who knows? So, just to stay on the safe side, avoid pvc, it is that simple. There are enough alternative products on the market today that won’t do any harm to our vinyl. Same goes for the new pvc compound(s) for the record pvc itself. In the EU, the use of toluene and lead is no longer permitted. Maybe additives in the earlier compound(s) are responsible for the deterioation of some records. Leeching pvc outer sleeves is one problem, the compound(s) of pvc for records may be another. Another interesting fact is that my very thin and flexible US RCA pressings on so called Dynaflex are all in very good shape. Also those that were stored for decades in paper inner sleeves and pvc outer sleeves. So that compound is different, no doubt about it. Specially composed for those thin and flexible RCA pressings. Same goes for some very old lp records from the 50’s. Many of those are not flexible at all, a bit like our present 180 grams pvc.
I personally do not think we are able to get all the answers. Plastics, and pvc in particular, are complex products that are tailored for the specific products, ranging from car parts to records and anything in between. Add to that that the manufaturers of the pvc pellets are all reluctant to reveal the formulas. Resulting in endless discussions and speculations. In short, avoid pvc outer sleeves to come near to our beloved vinyl!