Safe for People and the Planet

Provide the highest level of safety for carrying drinking water

Don’t Corrode

Don’t end up as pollution in our oceans and waterways

ARE now the preferred choice to replace and upgrade other pipes throughout the world

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Provide the highest level of safety for carrying drinking water

Modern Australian plastic pipes don’t contain any phthalates or heavy metals.

The health and environmental concerns sometimes associated with PVC are simply not applicable to Australian pipe products, with specifications covering additives are some of the tightest in the world:

  • Australian PVC pipe contains no plasticisers which contain  phthalates
  • There are no dioxins in Australian PVC pipe
  • Australian PVC pipe contains no heavy metal additives or stabilisers, which means no lead, mercury or cadmium
 

Australian Standards for PVC pipe specifically exclude such additives and worldwide are the only national product standards to do so. All products are independently assessed and certified as part of a rigorous regulatory environment that provides confidence that these products consistently meet all the requirements of the Australian Standard

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Learn more about our products verification process

The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) found through their literature review in 2010 the level of dioxin emitted due to production of BEP PVC and its constituents, is much less than that from other sources. There is therefore no rationale for discrimination against PVC pipe on the basis of dioxin emission.

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View the GBCA Literature review

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Best Environmental Practice PVC

In 2010 the GBCA determined criteria for Best Environmental Practice PVC (BEP PVC), in conjunction with PIPA and the Vinyl Council of Australia covering:

  • Best environmental practice manufacturing 
  • Fully independent third-party conformity certification
  • Responsible sourcing of raw materials
 

All PIPA members producing PVC pipes and fittings meet these BEP requirements.

Find our more about BEP PVC

View the Green Building Council BEP PVC Guidelines and Documents

VIEW OUR GUIDELINE

POP106 - Verification Guidance for Best Environmental Practice PVC Pipe and Fittings

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Provide the highest level of safety for carrying drinking water

Plastic pressure pipes manufactured to Australian Standards are tested to ensure they are safe to carry drinking water.

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conforming with australian standards

All plastic pressure pipes in Australia must conform with the relevant Australian Standards. These Australian product standards mandate pipes and fittings meet AS/NZS4020 “Testing of Products for use in contact with Drinking Water” – arguably the most rigorous standard in the world assessing a products suitability for use in contact with drinking water. These tests look for compounds or elements that could be harmful to human health, assess if there is any genetic risk and importantly the potential to cause taste or odour issues.

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Want to know more about AS/NZS 4020 testing?

clean drinking water

providing safe drinking water

Safe drinking water is one of the most important requirements for health in society. Most western countries take it for granted but it is a critically managed resource from collection, storage through to distribution. The pipes must provide a watertight system and must not contribute any contamination to the water, maintaining performance throughout the lifetime of the asset. 

Water Quality is monitored continuously by all Water Agencies ensuring their pipe networks deliver the highest quality of water. 

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Learn more about Guidelines for Water Quality Management

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Which Australian Standards do plastic pipes for water supply conform to?

learn more about epd's

The major Australian pipe manufacturers have published Environmental Product Declarations (EPD’s) for their collective pipe systems. These transparently provide access to all the inputs used to manufacturer these plastic pipe systems.

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Don’t Corrode

Plastic pipes have superior chemical resistance and don’t corrode like other pipe materials.

Plastic pipes offer 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.

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corrode water pipe

The Australasian Corrosion Association (ACA) using data supplied by The National Water Commission and the Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA) estimate the aggregated cost of corrosion in the water sector is close to $1 Billion per annum.

The ACA reports there are around 33,000 watermain breaks every year in Australia – that is a break about every 16 minutes. On average 80% are caused by corrosion.

read the report

A report on the impact of failure of infrastructure assets through corrosion as a result of current practices and skilling in the Australian mainland urban water and Naval defense sectors.

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Source: The Australian Corrosion Association Inc. November 2010. Average cost of water pipeline failures in Australia 2008-2009.

“Corrosion is the primary cause of failure” – Steve Folkman.

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Read Steve’s survey results of Water Main failures in the United States and Canada

Steve Folkman from the Utah State University research on the Validation of the long life of PVC pipes concluded “The average age of a failing water main is 47 years. This is unacceptable and unsustainable. Studies on the expected life of PVC pipe from researchers around the world consistently has confirmed a 100+ year benchmark for PVC pipes. These results are based on “dig-up” studies of pipe in use and installed by contractors.”

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Source: Corrosion Costs and Preventive Strategies in the United States, No. FHWA-RD-01-156

It is a similar story in the USA. A 2002 report titled “Corrosion Costs and Preventive Strategies in the United States” which was mandated by Congress and released by the Federal Highway Administration states the cost of corrosion to the US Water Industry is $36 Billion annually.

read the report

Read the report on Corrosion costs and preventative strategies in the United States.

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Don’t Corrode

Compared to other pipe materials, plastic pipes have the lowest failure rate for pressure water applications.

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Plastics pipe systems in water infrastructure have the lowest overall failure rates compared to cast iron, ductile iron, steel and asbestos cement. In some countries it is PE that is the best performing system and in others it is PVC – but it’s always a plastic pipe system.

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CSIRO completed a project with American Water Works Association Research Foundation (AwwaRF) to investigation long term performance of PE pipes in 2005-2007, which highlighted extremely low failure rate in comparison to other materials in use.

read the report

View CSIRO presentation on this investigation

Results from a 2011 Utah State University study of 188 utilities, covering 117,603 miles of pipe shows PVC pipes had the lowest failure rate. 

read the report

Read the Water main Break Rates: In the USA and Canada: A comprehensive Study

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Source: Steven Folkman, Water Main Break Rates in the USA and Canada, Utah State University, 2018

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Don’t end up as pollution in our oceans and waterways

Plastic pipes have a long service life and are not discarded as plastic waste.

Did you know plastic pipes represent a very small proportion of waste going to landfill?

This was confirmed by the NSW Government audit of Construction and Demolition waste. In one landfill site of 600,000 tonnes of  C&D waste less  there was somewhere between 1,000-3,000 tonnes of plastic pipe waste- that’s 0.1-0.5%! The reason why is due to their durability and very long service life, typically more than 100 years – making them the perfect choice for building and infrastructure materials.  Today, plastic pipes are still in their first life cycle. 

Read the Report

Read the report into the Construction and Demolition Waste Stream Audit 2000-2005

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

Want to know more about plastics long life and how they are different to single use?

pipe not polution

Our commitment to the Australian community is simple – we aim to recycle the maximum amount of usable plastic pipe.

Due to the low volume of plastic pipes in the waste streams, our industry is always looking at ways to work collaboratively with waste management companies, major distributors of products and specific suppliers/clients to collect volumes of plastic pipes viable for designated recycling.

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Find out more about PIPA’s recycling program and partners

The ten worst single use plastic products for our ocean animals from the Australian Marine Conservation Society.

It’s no surprise that plastic pipes and fittings are not on that list.

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Read about what 10 worst single-use plastic products for ocean animals are.

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pollution on a beach
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Don’t end up as pollution in our oceans and waterways

Plastic pipes are not part of the plastic waste pollution breaking down into microplastics in our oceans.

Existing research indicates plastic pipes do not contribute to pollution of oceans and waterways. They are unlikely to end up as or with discarded consumer waste due to their durability, long life and application of use.

A Norwegian study in 2017 objective was to determine the concentration of microplastics in in drinking water by sampling and analysis of raw water, treated water and tap water from a variety of networks. The study showed: “In the majority of all samples from raw water, treated water, and drinking water from the distribution system analysed, microplastic particles could not be detected”.

Read Mapping microplastic in Norwegian drinking water

The most common source of microplastics is the breaking down of large pieces of plastic debris, generating secondary microplastics.
For export from river catchments in Europe to sea, research5 found the following:

  • Abrasion from car tyres (42%) is considered as a large source. Tyre wear particles released from car tyres, and old tyre tread particles used as infill in artificial turfs.
  • Plastic based textiles abraded during laundry (29%).
    Synthetic polymers and plastic fibres in household dust (19%).
  • Microbeads in personal care products (10%).

Tests carried out by TEPPFA in 2020 on various types of plastic pressure pipes did not find any microplastics being emitted by the plastic pipes. 
Together with DTI8 in Denmark TEPPFA developed a test to flush drinking water through various types of plastic pipes and measure the microplastics found. DTI tested 50 meters drinking water pipes made from PE80, PVC-U, PEX-a, and PErt. Also, a Cu pipe was tested for blind testing purposes.

In September 2020 DTI reported: “Based on the applied method, no levels of microplastics above the detection limit (2µg/l) were found in the samples of the tests PE80, PEX, PErt and PVC-U.”

Besides this TEPPFA test there is no scientific research showing that there is abrasion of the inner walls of plastic drinking water pipes.

TEPPFA measurements on excavated >30-year-old PVC and PP stormwater and sewer pipes showed no wear of the inner walls. The test results confirmed tests done in the past in the Netherlands.

In 2019 TEPPFA organised the excavation of 2 types of 315 mm stormwater pipes in Harlev, Denmark. The 315mm PVC pipe and the PP Ultrapipe OD/ID 315/277 were still in function and had been installed in 1987. The DTI report dated April 2020 concluded that “the wear of the wall thickness is too minuscule to be measured with a normal gauge used for measuring wall thickness. No wear could be detected.”

operation clean sweep logo

Operation Clean Sweep (OCS) – Our commitment and leading by example

As PIPA’s ongoing commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility we have taken the pledge committing to Operation Clean Sweep (OCS). PIPA is working with our members who have already taken the pledge and become program partners and those who are working towards playing their role to help prevent pellet loss in Australia. 

Everyone in the industry has a role and responsibility to play throughout the whole supply chain. It’s a collective effort, where every little thing counts, and simple efforts allow for effective results. 

What is the campaigns' goal?

To help every plastic resin handling operation (manufacturing, transporting, fabricating and installing) implement good housekeeping and pellet containment practices to work towards achieving zero pellet loss.

WATCH

Plastic pipes can also play a role in helping sea turtles to release back into the ocean!

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Don’t end up as pollution in our oceans and waterways

Australian plastic pipes are made to the most stringent additives standards in the world.

Australian standards commonly specify requirements for additives that are more restrictive than the national standards in most other countries and more restrictive than the commonly used international ISO standards.

The Australian standards do not permit the use of any compounds based on lead (Pb), cadmium (Cd), or mercury (Hg). In addition, Australian PVC pipe standards specify requirements of Best Environmental Practice (BEP) PVC. These additional requirements that relate to the material content and the manufacturing processes and associated emissions, were first introduced in Australia and are recognised as the tightest environmental requirements internationally.

LEARN MORE

Learn more about Best Environmental Practice (BEP PVC)

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Want to know more about the stringent verification processes and Australian Standards for plastics pipes?

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are now the referred choice to replace and upgrade other pipes throughout the world

Plastic pipes are the preferred option due to their performance, durability, service life, simplicity of installation, energy efficiency, recyclability and cost effectiveness.

In Australia it is estimated that today plastic pipes and fittings are used in:
Pipe-Sewer@2x

Source: Presentation by SA Water to PIPA 2013

PVC pipes are used for the majority of SA Waters water main replacement program due to their flexibility and resistance to movement.

“With the new pipes having an approximate lifespan of up to 100 years, this project ensures we can keep providing our customers in the Wilmington area with trusted water services for years to come, as well as limit the potential for water main breaks and leaks on a busy regional road”

Amanda Lewry - SA Water’s General Manager Sustainable Infrastructure
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Source: Presentation by SA Water to PIPA 2013