Large diameter corrugated HDPE pipe is used in highway drainage projects, for example, and some are made with more than 40 percent recycled HDPE resin from recycled detergent bottles.
Irving, Texas — The recent announcement about the formation of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste was welcomed news to the Plastics Pipe Institute, Inc. (PPI). The North American trade association representing all segments of the plastic pipe industry and its members believe the new initiative will help to solve another significant problem aside from eliminating plastic waste. Of the 30 companies involved in the formation of the Alliance, 12 are PPI members.
“The plastics industry has now taken a quantum leap towards solving the problem of plastic waste,” stated Tony Radoszewski, CAE, president of PPI. “With the formation of the Alliance, the industry is driving forward a major initiative that has set realistic and obtainable goals. That is for certain. The PPI membership also sees another benefit, which is an increase in the supply of recycled high-density polyethylene (HDPE) resin. One of our members reports using more than 400 million pounds a year of recycled material. ”
Primarily used for underground storm water infrastructure management and agricultural drainage projects, some HDPE pipe can be made using more than 40 percent recycled HDPE resin that was originally used in more common applications.
“For decades, our members have been capturing the value of discarded plastics by using it to make plastic pipe,” he stated. “Plastic milk bottles and detergent bottles have been recycled and incorporated into agricultural drainage pipe since the 1980s. Today, we are working with research firms and the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) to produce storm water drainage pipe incorporating post-consumer recycled plastic for use in highway culverts.
“Our industry currently processes 25 percent of all post-consumer HDPE bottles — mainly from liquid detergent products — and converts them into products used in underground infrastructure. These bottles and containers that originally had a 60-day shelf life are now converted into a product — pipe — that has a 100-year service life. But there’s not enough to meet the demand. While this might be problem for pipe manufacturers, it is a golden opportunity to bring the goals set out by the Alliance to the next level, and answers the question ‘what to do with all that increase in waste due to the success of the Alliance’s programs?’.
“Think about it….to make one standard 20-foot length of 48-inch diameter HDPE pipe containing 40 percent recycled HDPE resin, it requires between 1,600 to 2,200 discarded bottles. Most stormwater drainage projects using this type of pipe run in the thousands of feet, sometimes even miles of pipe. This is how the plastic pipe industry uses an enormous number of post-consumer plastic bottles and takes what was formerly a solid waste issue to good use in beneficial, long-lasting projects.”
The Alliance’s four main goals are projects for collection development, innovation to make recovering plastics easier, education and engagement of the government, businesses and groups, and to clean up the major waste sites such as specific rivers.
“Recycling is an important end-of-life option for plastic materials,” Radoszewski continued. “Additional infrastructure is necessary worldwide to improve and increase the collection, and ultimately, the supply of recycled plastics. Both of these issues combine to bring a holistic approach that leads to a sustainable solution. We believe that is the prime directive of the Alliance. The members of the Plastics Pipe Institute are excited to be in partnership with organizations that will take sustainability to the next level by giving that new supply of recycled resin a new life.”
Additional information can be found at the PPI website: www.plasticpipe.org.