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The key to long-lasting plastic pipes and fittings

The Plastics Industry Pipe Association of Australia (PIPA) was founded in 1999 and is the peak industry body representing manufacturers and suppliers of plastic pipes and fittings, plastic resin suppliers, fabricators, pipeline installers, rubber seal ring manufacturers along with training and certification bodies.

As a non-profit association, PIPA works to promote the appropriate and contemporary use of plastic pipes and fittings throughout Australia.  This is achieved through our four key pillars of advocate, educate, technical and sustainability.

Executive General Manager Cindy Bray says Australia’s vast landscapes require large-scale, special purpose systems to move water, wastewater, gas and to protect underground networks of power and communication cables.

“We know that potential that plastic pipeline systems provide for long life, sustainable infrastructure that supports the circular economy,” she says.

“Not only are plastic pipes smart, efficient, and sustainable but so are the trenchless installation methods used. Plastic pipes are the preferred choice to replace and upgrade other pipes throughout the world. This is due to their performance, durability, service life, simplicity of installation, energy efficiency, recyclability, and overall cost effectiveness.”

PIPA’s sustainability story

To help educate across a wide range of audiences, PIPA has developed key messages to tell its sustainability story. Not all plastics are the same and too often pipe systems are mistakenly put in the same category as single use plastics.

Plastic pipe systems deliver essential everyday services and utilities

When thinking about the network of pipelines under the ground there are many vital roles they play from delivering drinking water, gas and electricity to homes and communities.

Bray says the network of wires and cables that deliver internet and communication services are used in irrigation systems that are essential for growing food.

Plastic pipes also carry away sewerage, rainwater, and stormwater – protecting communities.

“In recent years the water industry has also embraced PE particularly when trenchless installation techniques like directional drilling, pipe cracking, slip and swage lining have led to increased usage in water and wastewater applications,” she says. “These allow for fewer disruptions during installation or repair of existing pipelines, allowing flexibility and cost-effective installation of pipelines without the need to excavate trenches, lowing the impact to the environment and the community.”

Engineered products designed to last

Plastic pipes are long-life products, not single-use and are made from material engineered to be robust, reliable, and recyclable. With a service life longer than 100 years, the pipes are engineered from polymer materials and the perfect choice for infrastructure applications.

Unlike many plastic packaging applications which have multiple layers, plastic pipes are made from a single material and therefore easier to recycle.

“Plastic pipes used in buried infrastructure applications, like water, will likely never be dug up even at the end of their long service life. Instead, they will likely become a host for a new plastic pipe through trenchless installation, saving huge amounts of energy, resources, significantly reducing the impact to the environment,” Bray says.

Safe for people and the planet

Plastic pipes provide the highest level of safety for carrying drinking water and are manufactured to Australian standards.

Offering clear advantages in terms of chemical resistance over other pipe options, they are not affected by soil environments that are highly corrosive to metals and concrete.

Plastic pipes are not affected by compounds that form in wastewater such as acids that rapidly degrade iron and cement-lined pipes, making them the ideal choice for long-term infrastructure.

“Using plastic pipe systems in trenchless applications minimises the environmental footprint and is the best choice for digging under creeks, rivers, and other environmental sensitive areas,” Bray says.

The smart choice, using recourses responsibility and sustainability

Most plastic pipes are still in its first lifecycle and therefore recycling rates remain low, with most buried infrastructure applications becoming host pipes, minimising the impact to the environment using trenchless installation.

Bray says life cycle analysis studies have shown plastic pipes have a significantly better environmental profile than alternative pipe materials in all categories and across its whole lifecycle. Trenchless technology installation also reducing carbon footprint, reducing energy use and the amount of pollution released in the atmosphere compared to open cut trench.

“You can see the environmental benefits of using plastic pipe systems with trenchless installation methods. By using resources responsibly through better design, we’re working smarter. We’re committed. And we’re working towards creating a healthier environment and sustainable future,” she says.

For more information visit PIPA’s website

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