Australian trade group battles non-compliant PVC pipe fittings

By Kate Tilley
Correspondent

Published: July 28, 2014 2:19 pm ET
Updated: July 28, 2014 2:22 pm ET

Related to this story

Topics Construction, Public Policy, Pipe/Profile/Tubing, Oceania, Plumbing

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA — An Australian plastics industry association is battling against imported, non-conforming PVC pipe fittings, but is stymied by a convoluted web of regulatory bodies.

“It’s a complex and sensitive issue,” Sydney-based Plastics Industry Pipe Association of Australia Ltd. (PIPA) executive general manager Mark Heathcote told Plastics News.

The issue is a trickle of imported Chinese-manufactured PVC fittings for plumbing and drain waste pipes that are manufactured with lead stabilizer, banned in Australian fittings since 2009.

Heathcote said PIPA is in the midst of a second audit of plumbing products on retailers and suppliers’ shelves, following an initial 2012 audit.

“We’re still finding some non-compliant fittings in the marketplace,” he said.

They are from two Chinese manufacturers, whose products were also identified as non-compliant in the 2012 audit.

PIPA has worked with the larger, Sydney-based Australian Industry Group (AIG), a non-profit industry support group, and other regulatory and representative bodies, in a bid to stem the flow of non-conforming fittings.

AIG has investigated non-conforming products across the entire building industry and handed a report, which included the results of PIPA’s first audit, to the Australian Government last year.

Independent conformity assessment bodies (CABs) inspect plumbing products to see if they meet the Plumbing Code of Australia, but Heathcote is uncertain whether non-confirming products slip through because of problems with CABs or manufacturers not giving CABs correct information when they assess products.

CABs are overseen by JAS-ANZ, a government-appointed joint accreditation system for Australia and New Zealand. But Heathcote says PIPA doesn’t have any evidence to formally approach JAS-ANZ.

Another government body, the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB), oversees the plumbing code and the related WaterMark certification scheme, which identifies conforming plumbing products. ABCB took on responsibility for the code and WaterMark in February 2013 and is reviewing the entire scheme. It issued an interim report in January.

Heathcote said he understands the next report, due September, will “narrow the options” for the scheme’s future and ABCB will take further industry submissions before issuing final recommendations to the Australian government.

Heathcote says the issue is further complicated because installers are responsible for using compliant products but there is no point-of-sale regulation. He hopes ABCB’s September report or final recommendations may suggest Australia’s Customs and Border Protection Service police products as they are imported.

The potential dangers from using non-compliant plastic plumbing products are not confined to lead’s health and environmental impacts. Products that don’t meet other elements of the code — for example being under-strength — could fail, with serious consequences if they are installed within buildings’ internal structures.

“The last thing we want is for plastic pipe products to get an unwarranted reputation that should be confined to a rogue group of manufacturers,” Heathcote said.

He says although the amount of non-conforming product entering Australia is “relatively small,” PIPA is concerned it could be “the thin edge of the wedge.” It impacts on “reputable manufacturers and distributors” because non-compliant products are cheaper.

Some, but not all, parties in the supply chain have agreed to stop importing or marketing non-compliant product.

PIPA approached the Department of Fair Trading in the state of Western Australia — where one importer continues supplying non-conforming fittings — but was referred back to ABCB, which has no control over point-of-sale enforcement.

Heathcote agreed the industry is “stuck in a vicious circle.”


Comments

Australian trade group battles non-compliant PVC pipe fittings

By Kate Tilley
Correspondent

Published: July 28, 2014 2:19 pm ET
Updated: July 28, 2014 2:22 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Proposed green building standard delayed until late 2016

November 27, 2014 6:00 am ET

Anyone not ready for a new green building standard — one that may include more favorable ratings for plastics — is getting something of a ...    More

Image

SPI hopes to build on EPS recycling

November 26, 2014 6:00 am ET

Successfully recycling expanded polystyrene can be a challenge, there's no doubt about that. EPS, however, has value, is in demand and deserves to be ...    More

Image

Onex buying packaging group SIG Combibloc

November 24, 2014 9:05 am ET

ex Corp. will buy SIG Combibloc Group, the Switzerland-based manufacturer of aseptic carton packaging and plastics closures from New Zealand's Rank...    More

Image

Indian plastics group targets waste

November 24, 2014 12:46 pm ET

An Indian plastics environmental group and the country's largest brand for packaged water, Bisleri International Pvt. Ltd., have launched a trial...    More

Image

Wilbur Ross steps down from IAC board

November 24, 2014 11:38 am ET

Financier Wilbur Ross Jr. has resigned from the boards of International Automotive Components Group SA and its subsidiaries due to new regulatory rest...    More

Market Reports

Plastics Caps & Closures Market Report

The annual recap of top trends and future outlook for the plastics caps & closures market features interviews with industry thought leaders and Bill Wood’s economic forecast of trends in growing end markets. You will also gain insight on trends in caps design, materials, machinery, molds & tooling and reviews of mergers & acquisitions.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Plastics in Mexico - State of the Industry Report

This report analyzes the $20 billion plastics industry in Mexico including sales of machinery & equipment, resins and finished products.

Our analysts provide insight on business trends, foreign investment, top end markets and plastics processing activity. The report also provides important data on exports, production, employment and value of plastics products manufactured.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

October 27, 2015 - October 29, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - New York - 2015

More Events