Oct. 9, 2014 -- Speaking at the Plastic Pipes XVII conference and exhibition held on Sept. 22-24 in Chicago, Ill., Stephen Boros, chairman of the event's organizing committee, noted that four major factors -- development of the shale oil and gas industry, regional market expansion, innovation, and awareness in the field of lifecycle assessment (LCA) -- will potentially lead to double-digit growth in the global demand for plastic pipe systems over the next 10 years.
Boros, who is also VP Engineering for Pipelines Plastics, LLC, explained that plastic pipe systems continue to gain market share through supplanting competing pipe materials such as copper, concrete and steel due to easy and low-cost installation as well as long-term performance.
"In North America, these inherent advantages are now further supported by the development of the shale oil and gas industry," he said. "This development not only benefits the energy market but also represents a more secure long-term supply and cost advantage from a power costs to raw materials standpoint. Technology transfer will undoubtedly propel the growth of demand for plastic pipe systems in other world markets."
Twenty percent of the 120 papers delivered in Chicago originated from Asia, reflecting the importance of regional expansion. "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 in the construction market picks up, we can also predict similar gains in Asia and eventually Eastern Europe."
In his welcome speech, Boros reviewed some recent innovative applications that are changing the way plastic pipe technology is viewed from an environmental perspective. These included applications in the field of horticulture, water management to mitigate flood or relieve drought, and greening of the Sahara desert from within.
"The versatility of plastics and the human minds that are inspired to share their useful contribution to the planet are ceaseless," he said. "Unlike competitive pipe industries, the world's leading plastic pipe makers regularly invest over 10 percent on research and development. By 2024, we estimate that our industry and the many industries that support our industry will embrace a global sales turnover of USD 500 billion."
One landmark paper delivered by The European Plastic Pipes and Fittings Association (TEPPFA) exemplified the sustainable nature of plastic pipe systems. Numerous independent LCA studies have been commissioned by TEPPFA to provide incontrovertible evidence of the low environmental impact of a wide range of plastic pipe applications.
"LCA assessments with competing pipe materials further confirm our sustainable credentials," Boros said. "By communicating these scientific results to customers and stakeholders throughout the world, we shall lend appeal and thus promote further industry growth."