Our nation's water system is failing. And unless the plastics industry takes an active role in supporting full federal funding for our nation's crumbling infrastructure, we will miss a historic moment to innovate and modernize America's water systems. Our advocacy to Congress can bring safe, reliable and affordable water service to millions of Americans for the next century and beyond.
The nation is facing an infrastructure crisis, and the need for action is now. Our bridges are on the point of collapse. Our roads are filled with potholes and need refurbishing. The Report Card for America's Infrastructure reports that "growing wear and tear on our nation's roads have left 43 percent of our public roadways in poor or mediocre condition, a number that has remained stagnant over the past several years." Our transportation system is so bad it's delaying delivery of much-needed materials to customers.
Specific to water, the American Water Works Association estimates more than 240,000 water main breaks occur each year, wasting 2 trillion gallons of treated drinking water annually. The American Society of Civil Engineers notes that a water main break happens every two minutes.
The water crisis is harming American communities and families. Safe water systems are needed to protect our neighbors in Flint, Mich., where an estimated 2 million residents do not have access to clean drinking water. Today, thousands of miles of failing water lines are public health threats, and our products can improve the health and well-being of people all across the country.
The durable plastics industry can benefit from new federal spending on infrastructure. The vinyl industry alone is poised to supply thousands of energy-efficient and sustainable PVC pipes for new drinking and wastewater systems. And it doesn't stop there: We stand ready to improve the energy efficiency of homes with new vinyl windows and doors and provide durable new luxury vinyl tile (LVT) flooring and vinyl roofing to government buildings. We can also deliver materials to keep pace with evolving industries, such as PVC-coated wiring and conduit for electric vehicle charging stations.
Durable plastics can play a central role in President Biden's proposed Build Back Better initiative because the products made from our materials are more sustainable, more durable, more reliable and more affordable than any other competing materials on the market.
We should proudly tell the facts about the superior environmental and sustainability attributes of plastics when supporting infrastructure funding. The low carbon footprint of plastics used in infrastructure projects is a compelling selling point, one we must convey frequently to Congress to ensure they grasp that products made from our materials are indeed a superior choice. When vinyl industry representatives speak with members of Congress, we highlight that our products are more sustainable and can meet our nation's climate goals by citing these important facts:
• PVC has lower embodied carbon than iron, steel and concrete, which are the most significant contributors to the embodied carbon in buildings.
• PVC pipes are slick; they use less energy to pump water and have a lower operational carbon footprint.
• Products made from durable plastics stay in use; they don't go into landfills.
• Durable plastic products help advance the energy efficiency of lightweight vehicles.
• Our products are not just recyclable, they are being recycled.
Opponents object to the costs and spending levels of the proposed infrastructure plan. Legislation can always be strengthened, and how we pay for these needed improvements must be resolved. But the foundation for meaningful infrastructure reform is within reach. We cannot sit idly by as decisions by our government that could change the course of America's infrastructure investment for the next decade are being made as we speak.
Passing much-needed federal infrastructure legislation requires all of us to become more engaged. It demands that we act by asking Congress to vote for a comprehensive infrastructure bill. We can't afford further delays as our nation's infrastructure continues to rust, leak and corrode into obsolescence. Our engagement as an industry can make a difference.
The Vinyl Institute and other companies and trade associations are urging members of Congress to vote yes on infrastructure. Let's redouble our efforts in the coming weeks to get this critical legislation passed now.