Why Some Countries Are Seeing A Switch From PVC to PE

Joey MezistranoPipe Extrusion

Since the introduction of PE pipe in the 1970’s, Polyethylene pipes have become increasingly popular for a multitude of applications. This in turn has not been the greatest news for PVC pipe, in fact certain governments are incentivizing pipe manufacturers to make the switch over from PVC pipe production in favor of PE. While both PE and PVC have their advantages and disadvantages PE pipes are gaining serious market share in many countries. At the same time the piping industry is becoming heavily regulated in relation to environmental and public safety. This article looks at what is causing this change and how pipe manufacturers can adapt.

PE vs PVC Pipe

PVC pipe has in the past been one of the most popular types of plastic pipe, due to how cheap it is to manufacture and perfect for a range of diverse applications. Unfortunately due to the potentially toxic leaching of chemicals, PVC pipe is not ideal for every application. PVC is also more difficult to manufacture than PE because of extruder strain due to increased friction, requiring a twin screw extruder.

On the other hand PE pipe is chemically inert, meaning that there is no off gassing or leaching, making it a safe choice for plumbing and is considered the best pipe material for drinking water supply. Moreover, it is flexible, can be pulled around corners eliminating the need for purchasing fittings while providing better water flow. PE pipe is widely considered the best for underground water supply.

While PVC piping is still a reasonable option for a range of applications certain countries are considering regulating the types of piping that can be used for drinking water and as a result incentivizing pipe manufacturers to switch to PE pipe production lines.

Why Canada & Australia Urge For Change

The two biggest countries leading the charge in enforcing this change are Australia and Canada. In Australia, it is the unorganized market that mostly produces PVC pipes and these are of lower grade and have regional presence. However, regions such as Victoria and Queensland absorb the majority of the market share because there has been an increased demand for housing development in the past few years.

Another important factor accounting for the projected rise of PE pipes production is the surging expenditure on various infrastructural and developmental activities which are led by the federal and state governments.

In Canada, PE pipes industry also has a compelling future outlook. The market for PE pipes is expected to grow at the fastest pace among all the types of plastic pipes whereas PVC pipes use is expected to reduce due to substitution of more flexible types of plastic pipes such as PE pipe.

Canada has launched a number of environmental safety programs which promote the best use of plastics and also focus on their recyclability. For example in the early 90’s Canada passed The Vinyl Chloride Release Regulations (VCRR) to cap the amount of toxic air being released from PVC pipe manufacturing facilities.

The market share of organized sector manufacturers is expected to increase by 2022 owing to anticipated mergers and acquisitions by major players as well as an increase in domestic manufacturing. Finally, other industries expected to create a huge demand for PE pipes are oil, gas, chemical, leach mining operations and drip irrigation.

What This Change Means For Manufacturers

Canada and Australia could be pioneering a new change soon to be implemented in all markets. Manufacturers need to adjust quickly and start considering of a market shift towards safer and more efficient types of water supply pipes such as Polyethylene (PE). On one hand, this change means that manufacturers will need to adapt, upgrade and use new tools and equipment necessary for PE pipe preparation and installation. From a market perspective, new opportunities will arise as pipe producers expand to producing and manufacturing different types of PE pipe in addition to their existing product catalogue.

DRTS is Here to Help

Although there is not a single type of pipe suitable for every use, PE pipes are sure to be a big part of the future of water, drip irrigation and sewage pipe systems, so manufacturers may soon need to adapt. DRTS works closely with manufacturers in supplying solutions tailored to their specific needs. Contact us here for a free expert consultation and learn how we can help you adapt to the changing market with the latest technology.

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