Friday, 18 May 2018

Is it safe to use PVC plastic in an organic garden?

Back in 2014 I wrote a post titled Is it Safe to Grow Veggies in Styrofoam Boxes. This has been one of the most popular posts on my blog and has been read 12,720 times. I was reading Anne Gibson's blog The Micro Gardener the other day as I was looking for something specific and came across a post she had written called Is PVC Plastic Safe to Use in an Organic Garden? I thought to myself 'Oh no, don't tell me there is something wrong with PVC plastic as well' and continued reading and sure enough, it is not a good idea to use it in your garden.

As Anne writes in her post about PVC....

'Even when buried in landfill, PVC is an environmental health hazard. Research reports have found PVC:
  • leaches chemicals into the soil;
  • contaminates ground water and air; and
  • is toxic during manufacture right through to when it is disposed of'.

So if you are interested in learning more about this subject then do check out Anne's blog. We don't use PVC very much in our garden but there is a pipe in our watersaver garden and I have no idea what that could be replaced with to be honest.

I would hate to think that all our veggies in our wicking bed are contaminated. It is full of lettuce at the moment which came up from seed after all our lettuce plants went to seed during the heatwaves. Then there are new plants of spinach and silverbeet growing well there and I really don't want to pull them out.

I know that a lot of soapmakers use PVC pipes as a mould at times and I am now wondering if the heat of the soapmaking procedure would cause chemicals to leach out into the soap. I haven't used them as yet but I have used an Easiyo container and I hope they are safe. We make yoghurt in ours and I just came across the Huggies forum where someone was asking if they were safe to use for yoghurt and this is the answer from Easiyo if anyone is interested:

Hi everyone, our yogurt maker including yogurt jar and all other containers are manufactured from US and UK FDA approved polypropylene grade. It is suitable to withstand boiling water temperatures (softening point 152?c. All parts are completely free from polycarbonate, BPA and any form of anti-environmental hormones. Yogurt culture will not be affected by the plastic material but it can be influenced by unclean container. So it's very important you thoroughly wash the 1 litre yogurt jar (but do not immerse the Yogurt Maker in water just wipe clean with a cloth as it is only boiling hot water that is poured into it) to minimize the contamination for yogurt culture growth.

Thanks, the EasiYo team 
So hopefully they are safe to use for soapmaking too although I have only used the containers once for the soap shown in the above photo.  

Anyway some of my readers might find this information interesting and helpful. I don't have plans to use any more PVC pipes in our garden. I took a photo of my four chrysanthemums the other day. The plant my son gave me has such huge flowers compared with the other ones. Hmmm, I think I just may have bought another one too which is growing in a big pot out the front and I haven't seen it flower but I believe it is  a rusty colour. Well, it was reduced to $5 and badly needed some TLC when I saw it in Big W so I couldn't leave it there to die under the florescent lights.....could I? ;-)

Have a great weekend everyone. 



  1. Oh no Nanna Chel, I did not need to read this! Every corner we turn as gardeners there appears to be something toxic. I guess my barrels will be toxic too, I did wonder that when we purchased them. I also wonder about plastic rain water tanks, could they be toxic? I think I am over it all lol!

    Luckily I have been thinking of planting veggies back into the soil around here. Hopefully I can build up the soil over winter and try and talk hubby into putting up a decent shade...I have only been waiting 7 years lol! He cringes when I mention it! I would love for the whole area to be closed in with shade cloth. Wish me luck :)

    Oh well off to read Anne's article and scratch my head as to what to do next...

    Have a lovely weekend Chel!


    1. Tania, we have a black plastic tank but it isn't used as DH doesn't pump the water out into the smaller tank. I think he actually bought five tanks during the last drought :-) We use town water though and have a filter.

  2. Tania, I think that "plastic" water tanks are food grade. As are a lot of the larger containers that people are using for their container gardens, as they are used to send out bulk foodstuffs.
    Chel, I am hoping that, and they should, the plastic water pipe that you sowed in your garden. Most plumbers and from their rainwater tanks to their houses. Hope that this helps

    1. Chookasmum hopefully the plastic is okay. It is hard to know these days though.

  3. After reading your post I googled 'PVC and CPVC leaching'. Most water pipes in my home are CPVC.According to what I read, they also leach toxic chemicals into water. Arrrgh! I think the only solution is to abandon all mod cons and live in a cave. 🙁
    I'm sure those pipes used for plumbing are not food grade. And I use plastic containers for gardening and I don't think those are good grade either. 😔

    1. It can all get a bit overwhelming at times, Nil. I tend to hide my head in the sand and sometimes don't want to know ;-)

  4. Sometimes I think we over- react when reading these findings from sources. It does say when buried in landfill, so the PVC will also be effected by the surrounding gases and other leached chemicals and microbes. Single use, open systems like using to water vegies or worm towers, would it have the same effect? Modern day life dictates that we cannot avoid plastics- the transport we use, pipes to transfer water, fridges, etc. Its usually with misuse when problems occur. Remember when you were not to plant potatoes in old tyres, that idea seems to have disappeared as we try to recycle items. Everyone seems to be getting into banning plastic but I consider plastic great, up there with penicillin! We need a campaign about not abusing our resources and education in reusing and repurposing resources. Many ideas replace plastic with other materials, educating us on alternatives. But sometimes alternatives are too expensive for many. My daughter bought from a market for $30 3 beeswax covers. For Xmas, I bought 1m of a beautiful garden design cotton fabric for $22 (its was Xmas) and made 15 beeswax wraps in different sizes for presents. I bartered for the beeswax. Just saying, that sometimes the flavour of the month alternatives are expensive for some. And straws? I remember when they were paper! Sorry for preaching to converts.

    1. Hi Erin, I read that cadmium is leached into the ground from old tyres so it probably isn't a good idea to grow potatoes in them. I noticed a while back that Gardening Australia noted this in their fact sheets after finding this out. I doubt we will ever get rid of plastic when you consider how much it is used just in our hospitals for syringes, etc. not to mention in any other areas. We have to be careful how we use it I guess.

  5. Hi Chel, I replaced my plastic yogurt jar with a glass one a few years ago, I cool the immersion water to below boiling because glass is a much better conducter of heat than plastic (don't want the heat to kill the yogurt) and I don't want the glass jar to shatter with sudden boiling heat water.
    The glass jar gets cleaned in the dishwasher.
    Just replaced all my plastic chopping boards with wood this week.

    Chrysanthemums are looking gorgeous, saw some pretty impressive ones when in Japan last year, remind me to show you pics.

    1. Hi Margaret, I must get a glass container as I know Tania who commented above uses one. I just have to find one that fits the Easiyo container.

  6. I am a bit worried as I want to build raised garden beds and wonder if wood is treated with chemicals and these will each into the soil. Otherwise I could use cut down rainwater tanks.... which are not plastic.. I do think plastic is iffy and have gradually gone away from using it for food. But I never thought of PVC as they are pipes and so many things in the garden...


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