I am currently in charge of purchacing fabrics from asia. My personal policy is to try and stay as enviromentally freindly as possible. Your answer to the following question would be of great help and would prevent me from buying the wrong product in massive quantities.

What is a TPE fabric and how does it compare to PVC fabrics?

  • $\begingroup$ By compare, do you mean a comparison of their environmental effects? $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Jan 14, 2015 at 18:13
  • $\begingroup$ TPE in TPE fabric basically refers to a mixture of polymers, whereas PVC is one polymer. But that mustn't have been what you mean, must it? $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Jan 14, 2015 at 20:36
  • $\begingroup$ Hi, yes sorry I meant with regards to environmental effects. Thank you! $\endgroup$
    – user12750
    Jan 15, 2015 at 14:12

1 Answer 1


This question is impossible to answer without knowing which TPE you mean - TPE is a mixture of thermoplastic elastomers, which is a huge class of compounds.

PVC is polyvinylchloride, which is a specific compound. I found an MSDS here:


My advice is to contact the supplier for each fabric you are considering and to ask them for the MSDS. In that you will see what the acute and long-term exposure effects are for people. "Environmental effects" is a very broad subject, and you are not very likely to find research for any proprietary blends, particulary if they don't come from the US or EU. However, sometimes MSDS list non-proprietary compounds, and you can then check the EPA website for those names to see if there are any reports on broad environmental effects.

If you are also interested in the environmental impact of the entire production chain (which you should be, since end-use is usually the least significant part of that), then you should also ask the suppliers about their manufacturing process, whether they have any "green" certifications, etc. You can look up the patents for each production process (most of the time they will be patented) to see what their raw materials are, and then check the MSDS and EPA reports for those. It is also a good idea to see if you can tour their production facilities, once you know what the potentially dangerous precursors are and how they should be handled. It is easy to temporarily hide bad working conditions, but it is harder to fake treatment and containment facilities. Of course, if there isn't good regulatory oversight, there is a very good chance that the producer will take shortcuts to reduce costs, so keep in mind that what they tell you isn't necessarily going to be the truth.


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