The role of plastic pipes in supporting society

Plastics Industry Pipe Association of Australia

Plastic pipes and fittings have transformed the way we live by delivering essential services and utilities to our homes, businesses and communities.

Across a range of industries, from civil and domestic infrastructure to agriculture, mining and gas, plastic pipes and fittings play a critical role. They’re effective, efficient, and safe.

The Plastics Industry Pipe Association of Australia (PIPA) was founded in 1999 and is the peak industry body representing manufacturers and suppliers of plastics pipe and fittings, plastic resin suppliers, fabricators, pipeline installations, and 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.

“By collaborating with our members, industry professionals and global counterparts, we leverage the latest insights and technology to develop robust guidelines for best practice manufacture, installation, and use of plastic pipeline systems,” said the association’s Executive General Manager, Cindy Bray.

“Underpinning our approach is a commitment to future-focused leadership,” said Bray. “Through research, education, technical expertise, and advocacy, we help advance the use of plastic pipes and fittings as a smart, efficient, and sustainable solution.”

A sustainability story for plastic pipes

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

Plastic systems deliver essential everyday services and utilities.

It is important to consider the vital role plastic pipes play with human, social, economic, and environmental sustainability.

They bring drinking water, gas and electricity to peoples’ homes and communities. They also protect the network of wires and cables that deliver internet and communication services. There are other uses such as in irrigation systems – essential for growing food and carry away sewerage, rainwater and stormwater – protecting communities.

Engineered products designed to last

Pipes are long-life products, not single use. They are made from materials engineered to be robust, reliable, and recyclable.

Plastic can have a service life longer than 100 years. Engineered polymer materials are a suitable choice for infrastructure applications. Plastic pipes are a durable product remaining functional without excessive maintenance or repair. Testing of pipes that have been in service for decades has shown that the properties and performance remain unchanged over the long term.

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

Plastic pipes are safe for people and planet

Plastic pipes provide the highest level of safety for carrying drinking water. They don’t contain phthalates or heavy metals and are manufactured to Australian Standards.

According to Bray, plastic pipes offer advantages in terms of chemical resistance over the other pipe options. They are not affected by soil environments that are corrosive to metals and concrete. They do not end up as pollution in oceans and waterways, do not corrode like other pipe materials, and do not contribute to microplastics in the environment.

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

Using resources responsibility and sustainability

Recycling rates remain low for plastic pipes due to their longevity. A large number of plastic pipes currently in use are still in their first life cycle.

Plastic pipes are easily recyclable into new pipes when they reach end of life. 

The production plants are clean and efficient with processes designed to reuse any scrap materials to make other pipes.

Based on numerous life-cycle assessment (LCA) studies, plastic pipes have a better environmental profile than alternative pipe materials in all categories and cross their whole lifecycle.

Plastic is often the first choice when replacing and upgrading other pipes throughout the world. This is due to their performance, durability, service life, simple installation, energy efficiency, recyclability, and cost effectiveness. Through the whole lifecycle – manufacturing, use and disposal – the plastic pipe industry has, and will retain, its long-standing commitment to improving sustainable practices and outcomes, in a way that benefits all Australians.

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. Plastic pipeline systems are robust and long-lasting, providing reliability now and into the future. 

Find out more about PIPA at

Visit PIPA’s microsite to learn about the sustainability of plastic pipe systems at

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