Plastics News isn't the sort of publication with stories that go viral. But we do, occasionally, cover news that nonplastics readers find interesting — even years after they appear in print. That's why you'll sometimes see stories about California's shade balls pilot program (deploying plastic balls at reservoirs to slow evaporation) suddenly top PN's list of most read stories on our website, for instance.
That was also the case last week when someone on Reddit posted about a burst sewer pipe made of tar-covered cardboard (a story originally from a Tennessee news item in 2020).
Those pipes, also called Orangeburg pipes for a former manufacturer, were the topic of an item from Mike Lauzon, our now-retired correspondent based in Toronto, wrote about in 2015. And when people went looking for information about cardboard sewer pipes, Mike's story floated to the surface.
As Mike wrote, the pipes were first used in the late 19th century but came into more common use right after World War II when metal for pipe was in short supply while construction demand was intense. Also, building code requirements weren't as tough.
"So what seemed like a good idea at the time was, in hindsight, a ticking time bomb that might have been set off by the advent of automatic dishwashers that dump very hot water down drainage systems poorly built in the 1940s and 1950s," he wrote.
Some Redditors have found these pipes are still being used in some areas but typically aren't discovered until they fail — catastrophically fail, especially if you happen to be beneath one at the time.