For those of you who don't know, one of our specialities at Blue Clover Devices is making highly technical charging cables (for example, USB Type C cables).

As an ODM, we pride ourselves in being able to source the highest quality and most cost effective materials, so we can pass on these cost savings to our clients. However, we also pride ourselves in using sustainable and ethical design and manufacturing practices. Obviously, we apply these strengths to our cables as well.

This recently led to a big question: will we use PVC or TPE for our cable jackets?

PVC is easy to use and cheap, since it’s been so widely adopted by industries everywhere. But of course, there’s a catch.

According to GreenPeace, "While all plastics pose serious threats to human health and the environment, few consumers realize that PVC is the single most environmentally damaging of all plastics."

To make the coating for cables, we use injection molding which melts down the plastic to perfectly coat the copper wiring. However, when PVC is melted, it emits dioxin, a toxin that our bodies can’t break down.

Meanwhile, TPE is non-toxic (as far as we know). But as a material, it’s less flexible than PVC and generally not as widely adopted. These factors, among other things, mean that it’s more expensive than PVC. In our case, the options we found for TPE are 20% more expensive than PVC.

In the manufacturing business, where we already have high overhead costs for every project, the variable costs can make or break profits and influence client decisions whether or not to choose us. And when you are a small employer with loyal employees, you want to continually grow your organization and reward employees for their dedication. The nuances of this decision extend further than can be encapsulated in a brief blog post.

Ultimately, Pete made an anonymous poll open to everyone in the company. The votes were unanimous: TPE for the win!

If you’re interested in reading the GreenPeace article quoted in this piece, you can find it here: https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/wp-content/uploads/legacy/Global/usa/report/2009/4/pvc-the-poison-plastic.html

You can also read more about this topic at these links:

https://toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/chemicals-and-contaminants/polyvinyl-chloride-pvc

https://toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/chemicals-and-contaminants/dioxinshttps://www.essentracomponents.com/en-us/news/product-resources/caps-and-plugs-pvc-vs-tpe