NEW ZEALAND’S PVC PIPE RE­CY­CLING SCHEME

DEMM Engineering & Manufacturing - - FRONT PAGE - By Si­mon Wilkin­son www.plas­tics.org.nz info@plas­tics.org.nz or Ph: 09 2555662

PVC pipe man­u­fac­tur­ers across New Zealand have joined forces to pro­vide a re­cy­cling so­lu­tion for their prod­ucts.

Most PVC plas­tic pipe in New Zealand is made by three com­pa­nies: Mar­ley, Iplex Pipe­lines and RX Plas­tics. These three com­pa­nies are now tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for their prod­ucts at the end of their use­ful life, or when those prod­ucts be­come waste. As part of a na­tion­wide pipe re­cy­cling pro­gramme, clean PVC plas­tic pipe can be de­liv­ered, free-of-charge, to re­cy­cling drop-off lo­ca­tions in Auck­land, Palmer­ston North, Christchurch and Ash­bur­ton.

World­wide, the ma­jor­ity of plas­tic pipe is made from ei­ther PVC (polyvinylchlo­ride), or PE (poly­eth­yl­ene). The choice of plas­tic de­pends on the way the pipe will be used.

Most peo­ple are sur­prised to learn that PVC is ac­tu­ally made from 56 per­cent salt and 44 per­cent fos­sil hy­dro­car­bons (oil or nat­u­ral gas). The elec­trol­y­sis of salt wa­ter pro­duces chlo­rine. The chlo­rine is then com­bined with ethy­lene that has been ob­tained from oil or gas, and man­u­fac­tured into PVC.

Around 85 per­cent of PVC resin man­u­fac­tured ev­ery year is used in durable, long-life prod­ucts de­signed to last more than 15 years, such as win­dow frames, pipes, floor cov­er­ings and elec­tri­cal ca­ble in­su­la­tion.

More than half of all PVC man­u­fac­tured in the world is used in con­struc­tion, and the ma­jor­ity of that is for pipes which are de­signed to last over 100 years. This means pipe is not a com­mon prod­uct be­ing dis­posed of in our land­fills. It is only dealt with as a waste when there are of­f­cuts from con­struc­tion projects, or pipe is re­moved from build­ings when be­ing de­mol­ished.

The dura­bil­ity of plas­tic pipe gives some im­por­tant ben­e­fits over other ma­te­ri­als. In­ter­est­ingly, plas­tic pipe was found to per­form bet­ter in the 2010 and 2011 Christchurch earth­quakes in which 1,700km of pipe was se­verely dam­aged. A Univer­sity of Can­ter­bury study found that the older more brit­tle pipes present in the Christchurch waste­water net­work, as­bestos ce­ment, cast iron, earth­en­ware and re­in­forced con­crete suf­fered higher amounts of dam­age than the plas­tic pipe ma­te­ri­als, polyvinylchlo­ride and poly­eth­yl­ene, ac­cord­ing to au­thor Kate Brooks at the Univer­sity.

PVC, like all other ther­mo­plas­tics, is fully re­cy­clable. At the end of their life, PVC pipes can be col­lected, re­cy­cled and turned into other prod­ucts. The catch is that there has to be the pro­cess­ing tech­nol­ogy avail­able, and there needs to be a mar­ket for the re­cy­cled ma­te­rial. This is where the pipe man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try in New Zealand has stepped up to ‘close the loop’ by pro­vid­ing the so­lu­tion to the re­cy­cling of their prod­ucts.

Clean PVC pipe can be de­liv­ered to re­cy­cling fa­cil­i­ties in Auck­land, Palmer­ston North, Christchurch and Ash­bur­ton. Loads are in­spected to en­sure there is no con­tam­i­na­tion. The re­cy­cling process re­quires there to be no other ma­te­ri­als, dirt, or stones as these will cause prob­lems for the re­cy­cling ma­chin­ery. This means a load must not con­tain; other ma­te­ri­als such as wood or pa­per, any other types of plas­tic prod­ucts, ex­ces­sively dirty pipe, or pipe used for sewage. The suc­cess of this re­cy­cling scheme is highly de­pen­dent on en­sur­ing the pipe for re­cy­cling is free of con­tam­i­nants. It is im­por­tant that cus­tomers sort their waste thor­oughly be­fore de­liv­er­ing.

Both PE and PVC pipe ma­te­rial is ac­cepted for re­cy­cling. The two dif­fer­ent types of pipe are sep­a­rated at the re­cy­cling cen­tres for pro­cess­ing. Af­ter sort­ing, the pipe is ground up and re­cy­cled into other pipe ap­pli­ca­tions like drain flow coil pipe. In some cases re­cy­cled ma­te­rial is in­cor­po­rated into new pipe by sand­wich­ing re­cy­cled ma­te­rial be­tween thin lay­ers of vir­gin plas­tic.

Re­cently, one of New Zealand’s largest civil con­struc­tion com­pa­nies, Ful­ton Ho­gan, made use of the new pro­gramme to re­cy­cle mixed plas­tic pipe from one of their ma­jor con­struc­tion projects. The pipe had col­lected over sev­eral months at the Lin­coln Rd In­ter­change mo­tor­way pro­ject in Auck­land.

“We have a com­mit­ment to re­duc­ing waste to land­fill as part of our Sus­tain­abil­ity Strat­egy,” says Ful­ton Ho­gan’s Sus­tain­abil­ity Man­ager, Michael LeRoy-Dyson, “and this pro­gramme pro­vided us with a sim­ple so­lu­tion to plas­tic pipe waste that had been col­lect­ing over time at the pro­ject.” The plas­tic pipe was de­liv­ered to the Mar­ley pipe re­cy­cling fa­cil­ity in Ma­nurewa, Auck­land, where it was sorted and re-pro­cessed. “Plas­tic pipe is a com­mon waste stream from our con­struc­tion projects across New Zealand. Un­til now we have strug­gled to find a re­cy­cling av­enue, par­tic­u­larly for PVC pipe. Now all our projects are able to use this re­cy­cling ser­vice when­ever pos­si­ble,” says LeRoy-Dyson.

In a sim­i­lar story, Iplex Pipe­lines has re­cently re­cy­cled a large batch of PVC pipe from an un­usual source. Frank O’Cal­laghan of Iplex ex­plains: “Around 1.5 tonnes of PVC in the form of short lengths of pipe was de­liv­ered to our plant in Palmer­ston North. The pipe had been used in the dairy in­dus­try as cheese moulds and the cheese­maker wanted to get them re­cy­cled. The ma­te­rial was ideal, be­cause it was very clean and was all one ma­te­rial. We were able to chip the ma­te­rial and re­cy­cle it back into new pipe.”

These are two great ex­am­ples of how or­gan­i­sa­tions can use this new ser­vice to avoid land­fill costs and have their plas­tic pipe re­cy­cled.

The in­dus­try scheme is still in the early stages with the par­tic­i­pat­ing com­pa­nies ea­ger to take more ma­te­rial from those look­ing for a so­lu­tion for plas­tic pipe waste.

Any­one want­ing to re­cy­cle bulk PVC or PE plas­tic pipe that is rel­a­tively clean, can con­tact the fol­low­ing to find out more.

New PVC pipe con­tain­ing a re­cy­cled core sand­wiched be­tween lay­ers of vir­gin PVC.

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