The plastic pipe industry will see double-digit growth over the next 10 years with global sales for manufacturers and the businesses supporting them estimated to reach $500 billion by 2024.
Four major factors are contributing to the favorable outlook: shale oil and gas developments, regional market expansion, innovation and increased awareness about the life-cycle assessment of plastic pipes.
That's all according to Stephen Boros, vice president of engineering for Pipeline Plastics LLC, who spoke at the Plastics Pipes XVII conference held last month in Chicago.
Plastic pipe continues to supplant competing materials like copper, concrete and steel because of low-cost installation and long-term performance, according to Boros, who was chairman of the event, which was attended by 470 people from 34 countries.
Regionally, the plastic pipe industry in China is experiencing the greatest growth and a spin-off conference focused on Asia is being organized for September 2015 in Shanghai.
“Last year, China became the world's largest producer and consumer of plastic pipes,” Boros said. “While we can expect the U.S. market to maintain double-digit growth as recovery of the construction market picks up, we can also predict similar gains in Asia and eventually Eastern Europe.”
He also credited innovation with environmental implications, such as horticultural applications and water management solutions to relieve floods and droughts, for changing the way plastic pipe technology is viewed.
“The versatility of plastics and the human minds that are inspired to share their useful contribution to the planet are ceaseless,” Boros said. “Unlike competitive pipe industries, the world's leading plastic pipe makers regularly invest over 10 percent on research and development.”
The scale and scope of the industry also is being shaped by increased security in the supply of raw materials from shale oil and gas developments as well as new studies pointing to the sustainability of plastic pipes over its life cycle, Boros said.
Plastics Pipes XVIII is scheduled for Sept. 12-14, 2016, in Berlin, Germany.