Both the hydrochloric acid released by the breakdown of the PVC, and the stabilizers, plasticizers and other additives used In the PVC materials, pose threats to the preservation of photographs stored in such photograph albums or scrapbooks. Under appropriate conditions, these agents are capable of leaving the straps and interacting with the photographs, thereby potentially discoloring those photographs. Mizen, M. B.; Agbor, C. N. Strap for photograph album and scrapbook, EP1307348A4, January 24, 2007.
The original plastic strap used in Webway and early Creative Memories scrapbooks was made from PVC. It was a convenient material that had been selected because it was low-cost and relatively durable. Unfortunately, the PVC straps would react with photos on the first or last page over time. The problem was particularly evident with professional photos. In addition, returned albums frequently showed brown spots on the straps due to the plasticizer in the PVC, which supported fungal growth.
After an exhaustive search of various materials, we replaced the PVC straps selected with photo-safe polyethylene containing an ENGAGE additive to maintain flexibility. This discovery was patented in Europe, Canada, and China, but, these patents do not appear to be currently in effect. In the U.S., the patent was not allowed. Consequently, all manufacturers companies are free to use these or other similar materials.
April 23, 2014: I do not have the exact date when Creative Memories changed the material for their straps, but it was prior to June 2001.
June 23, 2014: Youngevity’s Our Memories For Life albums use PVC for their straps; yet the albums are supposedly “100% photo-safe and archival.”
December 10, 2014: According to Our Memories for Life, their straps are now manufactured from DuPont Hytrel, which does not contain PVC.