Construction Plastics Recycling Scheme
No More Waste: PVC Pipe Off-cuts Recycled into New Pipes
Master Plumbers’ Association Queensland (MPAQ) and Plastics Industry Pipe Association of Australia (PIPA), in conjunction with Vinidex, Iplex, Tradelink, and Reece, with support from the Queensland Government, have joined forces to launch the Construction Plastics Recycling Scheme pilot to contribute to a responsible and sustainable future.
The Construction Plastics Recycling Scheme will work collaboratively with industry over a six month period, with collection bins located on multiple sites, providing alternative outlets for PVC off-cuts to be discarded. The off-cuts collected in these bins over this period will be audited and the data recorded to understand the volume of available PVC off-cuts.
The bins will be located on the following sites:
- Brisbane Queens Wharf Development (Towers 1 and 2)
- Gold Coast Jupiters Development
- Woolloongabba Tradelink Store
- Labrador Reece Plumbing Store
- Beenleigh Plumbing Industry Climate Action Centre
- Prominence Outlook Pallara
- Caboolture Hospital Redevelopment
What Can and Cannot Be Recycled?
NOTE: Solvent cement on pipe and fittings is okay
*This includes PVC-U, PVC-M, and PVC-O
NOTE: Heavily soiled products cannot be accepted due to Health Regulations.
*Polypropylene (Traps), Hot and Cold Systems (PEX, PB), Gas Systems (PEX, Composites), Polyethylene pipes and fittings
The most common plastics used for pipe production are PVC, polyethylene, and polypropylene, which are all thermoplastics. In simple terms, this means they can be cut up, remelted, and reformed into another shape or product, allowing them to be easily reprocessed and recycled.
The Construction Plastics Recycling Scheme focuses on PVC. PVC non-pressure and pressure pipes and fittings are 100% recyclable and like the other plastic materials noted above can be reprocessed and manufactured into new pipe.
The scheme also aims to educate and change behaviours when it comes to the disposal of PVC off-cuts, working collaboratively with the broader industry to provide easy and accessible drop off points, helping to divert waste from landfill, which can be recycled into a new long-life recyclable pipe product.
Keep an eye out for the Construction Plastics Recycling bins at your next visit to the Reece Labrador or Tradelink Woolloongabba store!
Why should we recycle?
Plastic pipes have transformed the way we live. In Australia, the majority of PVC resin imported into Australia is used in the manufacture of PVC pipes and fittings, so it’s no secret that it plays an important role in many industries, most notably, plumbing.
The key to a circular economy is designing products to last. One of the common plastics used for pipe production is PVC. Thanks to its durability and long service life, typically more than 100 years, this material is found on all building sites today. Although most of the PVC goes into the buildings, there can be off-cuts that can be reused and reprocessed into new PVC pipe.
As society moves towards a more sustainable future, the plumbing industry is becoming more aware of the role it can play in diverting off-cuts of plastic pipes from landfill, increasing the levels of post-consumer recycling (PCR), contributing to a circular economy.
Did You Know Plastic Pipes and Fittings Are Different to Single-Use Plastics?
Unlike single-use plastics, plastic pipes do not end up as pollution in our waterways or oceans. They are engineered products that are recyclable and designed to last, with minimal waste ending up in landfill. Plastic pipes do not biodegrade or corrode and generally their properties remain stable in the long term. These properties are ideal for a product such as pipes, as a long-life expectancy is required.
PVC Plastic Pipes Are Safe for People and the Planet
The health and environmental concerns sometimes associated with PVC are simply not applicable to Australian pipe products, with the specifications covering additives being some of the tightest in the world. Australian PVC pipe contains no plasticisers, which contain phthalates, no dioxins, and no heavy metal additives or stabilisers, which means they are safe for people and the planet.
In 2010, the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) determined criteria for Best Environmental Practice PVC (BEP PVC), in conjunction with PIPA and the Vinyl Council of Australia, covering best environmental practice manufacture, fully independent third-party conformity certification, and responsible sourcing of raw materials. BEP PVC has been the industry’s norm.
- Pipe offcuts that are collected can be recycled back into new pipes. The amount of recyclable pipe that can be manufactured into new pipe is currently limited by the low volume of plastic pipes in the waste stream, due to the pipe’s long service life.
- PVC pipe can be recycled six to seven times without significant reduction in pipe material quality requirements, highlighting the many benefits to collecting and recycling the offcuts. Assuming a pipe lifetime of 100 years, the PVC material in PVC pipes may have a lifetime in excess of 600 years!
- The plastics pipe industry is already recycling post-consumer waste collected from the waste stream and recycled back into pipe products, as well as scrap generated during manufacture, which is reground and fed back into the manufacturing process. This recycled material is incorporated with virgin materials at varying levels to manufacture new pipe, having the same life and performance expectations as pipe made from solely virgin materials.
- Production plants for plastic pipes have a lower carbon footprint than alternatives, boasting low emissions and lower embodied energy. The main inputs for the equipment are electrically powered to melt the plastics, resulting in a very clean, enclosed process. The development has no combustion or chemical reaction, resulting in no smoke or emissions produced. From here, the thermoplastic material melts and can be formed into shape.
Overall, the process of producing, recycling, and reusing pipes have minimal environmental effects highlighting the never-ending benefits to implementing the Construction Plastics Recycling Scheme. Plastic pipes are smart, efficient, and sustainable, providing long-lasting and reliable infrastructure both now and into the future.
The Construction Plastics Recycling scheme partners are committed to the Australian community and environment. The scheme aims to educate and recycle plastic pipe and fittings waste, diverting from landfill to contribute to a responsible and sustainable future.
The Construction Plastics Recycling Scheme will commence in November 2021. To be the first to find out more, follow us on Facebook or Instagram and stay up to date with MPAQ News. Find out more about how sustainable plastic pipes are and the benefits it has on today’s society, click here.
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