When considering the cost of PVC products and alternatives it is important to not only consider the sales price but also to consider any direct and indirect costs throughout the product life and at the end of life when the product becomes waste. Direct costs include maintenance of products during their life cycle (e.g. painting of wood windows), or lower energy demand due to low weight in transport (e.g. in cars) Indirect costs include among others an assessment of costs of reducing the impact on the environment, for instance by reducing the greenhouse gases emissions.
Several studies have considered full-life costs of PVC products and alternatives. Conclusions have shown that when all direct and indirect costs are considered PVC products are usually the least expensive option in most of the major product applications. A study which examined several major applications for PVC was completed for the UK Government in 2001 and concluded that, “The life-cycle costs of PVC products would appear to involve significantly lower costs than equivalent products made out of alternative materials.”