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PVC pipes - 50 Years of Service in Australia and still flowing strong

PVC pipes -  50  Years of Service in Australia and still flowing strong

PVC is an important material of choice for pressure pipeline applications throughout the world, and technological advancements have introduced different use PVC pipes to the Australian market – PVC-M and PVC-O.

Unplastisicised PVC (PVC-U) was first developed in the 1930's and came to be used in pressure pipelines from the 1950's, firstly in Europe, followed by the United States and then Australia since the 1960's. The product has a well-known and respected performance history in pipeline applications.[1]

More recently technological advancements in PVC pipes have led to the subsequent development of Modified PVC (PVC-M) and Oriented PVC pipes (PVC-O). Australian was an early adopter of PVC-O pipe with local manufacturing commencing in 1984. Australia has continued to be at the forefront of significant advances for PVC-O pipe when local manufacturers developed the process that would significantly increase the output of PVC-O pipe. From this work came the in-line orientation process, where a feedstock pipe from the extruder is stretched over a mandrel or plug under tightly controlled conditions to produce a bioriented PVC pipe. More recently, an alternative process has been developed that orients feedstock pipe by inflating with pressurised hot air. These processes havebecome the standards for production of PVC-O pipes around the world. Australia continues to have the largest PVC-O pipe manufacturing capacity in the world.

As the original PVC pipes installed across Australia start to exceed 50 years’ service, there is no reason to assume these pipes are no longer providing good service. Several analytical studies have estimated that PVC pipe can have a useful life of over 100 years.

Late last year, pipe manufacturer Iplex Pipelines opened a PVC recycling centre at their Sydney factory in response to customer enquiries. However as noted by the Plastics Industry Pipe Association of Australia Limited (PIPA), “As PVC pipe has an anticipated service life in excess of 100 years, research conducted by Iplex and the Plastics Industry Pipes Association of Australia has revealed very little waste PVC pipe product from demolition sites is finding its way to landfill. In the decades ahead, this situation may change but for now most PVC pipe entering the waste stream is short offcut pieces and surplus unused new product.

“The resin used in the manufacture of PVC pipe and fittings is 100% recyclable and a valuable resource that deserves a second life.”

[1] http://www.sawater.com.au/NR/rdonlyres/0D0E16FC-CB5B-4988-ADA9-15D54613712E/0/PVCPipe.pdf

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