Radoszewski explains how plastic piping is a smarter, more sustainable alternative to traditional metal pipes
American Infrastructure: What were some highlights for PPI in 2017?
Tony Radoszewski: A continuing highlight of our association is the yearly growth we experience in the number of member companies. Also, during 2017 we established more task groups within each of our five divisions to support the increasing use of plastic pipes across many industries. PPI will continue to expand those initiatives during 2018.
We see a strong benefit in the resurgence of the energy market and the promotion by the president to make the United States not only energy independent, but energy dominant. Making the United States an exporter of oil and natural gas means higher demands for the natural resources, which translates to higher demand for our members’ pipe and related products.
In 2018, we’ll also concentrate on regulations that affect the oil and gas industry, plus the infrastructure bill where we want to focus on underground infrastructure for broadband, electrical undergrounding, water distribution, sanitary sewer, and storm sewer systems.
AI: Is PPI working to provide education, accreditation, and/or certifications in order to help keep the country’s infrastructure running?
TR: We work with other certification and standards associations such as ASTM, AWWA, CSA and IAPMO in developing standards that assure only the highest quality materials are used in the critical application of serving North America’s need for water and sewer systems. We also work with the American Gas Association, the American Petroleum Institute, and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which is responsible for developing and enforcing regulations for the safe, reliable, and environmentally sound operation of America’s 2.6-million-mile pipeline.
PPI has an education committee that supports all five of our divisions. Each of those five divisions — Building and Construction, Drainage, Energy, Municipal and Industrial, and Power and Communications — have webinars, lunch and learn seminars, and present technical papers at many forums conducted by association such as the American Society of Civil Engineers, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, American Society of Plumbing Engineers, and AASHTO.
Another initiative at PPI is the Hydrostatic Stress Board (HSB), which is responsible for developing policies through a body of independent experts to define procedures for the forecasting of the long-term hydrostatic strength of thermoplastic pipe materials. When plastic pipe compounds are listed with the HSB, design engineers and specifiers have a tool to help ensure a high confidence level of the pipe that may be installed into a wide and varied range of applications.
AI:What can you tell us about the sustainability of plastic piping systems? What is it about plastic that makes it a better material over traditional piping?
TR: Plastic pipes have a confirmed long service life due to the fact they do not rust. They have better abrasion resistance for storm water systems and leak-free joining systems, and advancements in polymer technology provide a finished product with a lower environmental footprint.
Plastic piping systems are a sustainable and environmentally responsible choice that will serve generations to come. They are ecologically friendly during manufacturing and provide peak protection from contamination during service. Strong, durable, light-weight and flexible, these piping systems require significantly less energy to fabricate, transport and install than metal or concrete alternatives. With superior resistance to corrosion and abrasion, plastic piping systems also supply long service life, excellent joint performance and offer leak-free protection when fused joints are applied — all adding up to exceptional value.
AI: In what ways can plastic piping improve the nation’s infrastructure?
TR: Let’s start with a 100-year service life, a totally leak-free system, lower installation cost and lower operating cost. One only needs to look at many countries in Europe to see how plastic pipes have demonstrated superior service as compared to legacy materials such as concrete and metal. We can learn a lot from our friends across the pond who long ago made the conversion to state-of-the-art technologies and materials.
AI: What are your thoughts on the studies that have been conducted showing plastic as a more reliable and more sustainable piping material?
TR: We think they are great, as they confirm what we have been saying for decades. We just wish more and more people would become aware of those studies and recognize that a superior alternative is already available at a lower cost. But there is more to discover regarding the long-term benefits of plastic pipe systems. There are literally hundreds of technical documents, design tools, and case studies on our website that define the performance capabilities of plastics in a vast array of end use applications.
For more information, go to www.plasticpipe.org