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

Beaumont battles technology theft from China

September 10, 2014 2:21 pm ET

John Beaumont, who runs a small company in Erie, Pa., making a product for injection molds called the MeltFlipper, is facing a website in China that...    More

Image

Ukraine crisis prompts factory move to Russia

September 9, 2014 1:38 pm ET

The crisis in the Ukraine has prompted Polish PVC window maker Fakro Co. to consider shifting production from some of its plants in the country to...    More

Image

Pact ponders purchase of Indonesian manufacturer

September 8, 2014 2:58 pm ET

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA — Pact Group Holdings Ltd., Australia's largest rigid plastic packaging manufacturer, is conducting due diligence with a...    More

Image

After a decade of trying, California poised to ban plastic bags

September 5, 2014 2:19 pm ET

Even with California on the brink of becoming the first in the United States to enact a state-wide ban on single-use plastic bags, arguing over the...    More

Image

California court rejects Chemtura flame retardant case

September 5, 2014 1:16 pm ET

SACRAMENTO, CALIF. — In a preliminary ruling on Aug. 28, California Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny rejected Chemtura Corp.'s legal bid to bl...    More

Market Reports

Shale Gas Market - Analysis of North American Region

This report highlights the impact of shale-based natural gas on the North American plastics market and features an in-depth analysis of production trends in the United States during 2013 and a forecast for 2014 and beyond.

Learn more

Thermoformed Packaging 2014 Market Review & Outlook North America

This in-depth report analyzes economic and market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting supply and demand, business opportunities and threats, materials pricing, manufacturing technology, as well as growth strategies being implemented by thermoformed packaging companies.

Learn more

Pipe, Profile & Tubing Extrusion in North America 2014

U.S. demand for extruded plastics is expected to grow by 3 percent in 2014, with PVC remaining the largest segment.

Plastic pipe will post the strongest gains through 2018, continuing to take market share from competing materials in a range of markets.

Our latest market report provides in-depth analysis of current trends and their financial impact on the pipe, profile and tubing extrusion industry in North America.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

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

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

More Events