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As communities globally grapple with the challenge of maintaining effective water and sewer networks, a critical solution emerges in the form of plastic pipes. These pipes, characterised by their longevity, practicality, and affordability, are proving to be indispensable in meeting the demands placed on modern sewer systems.

Jan Venter, CEO of the Southern African Plastic Pipe Manufacturers Association (SAPPMA), says plastic pipes play a pivotal role in ensuring the effectiveness and sustainability of these important infrastructures.

“Water and sanitation infrastructure, alongside housing, are pressing priorities in South Africa today,” Venter says. “Local and national governments therefore have a crucial role to play in uplifting communities by implementing effective sewer and waste management systems. When installing pipelines for water and sewage systems, adherence to engineering and product standards is paramount to deliver optimal results that are both practical and cost-effective.”

Both PVC and HDPE plastic pipes offer a durable solution that surpasses traditional materials like steel and concrete. Their suitability to labour-intensive construction techniques, coupled with minimal maintenance requirements, makes them an ideal choice for sewage systems of varying complexities.

Furthermore, plastic pipes contribute to sustainability efforts by promoting a circular economy. Multi-layered PVC pipe systems allow for the reuse of post-consumer and in-house recycled material, aligning with environmental conservation goals while maintaining the required durability and performance standards.

“One of the key advantages of plastic pipes is their resistance to corrosion, a common issue faced by traditional sewer systems. Unlike steel and concrete pipes, plastic pipes remain structurally sound and watertight over extended periods, even in corrosive environments. This resilience ensures a longer service life, reducing the need for frequent maintenance and costly repairs,” Venter explains.

In addition, the versatility of plastic pipes extends to trenchless technology, facilitating efficient rehabilitation and replacement of existing pipelines without the need for extensive excavation. Techniques such as pipe bursting, slip lining, and cured-in-place pipe offer practical solutions for upgrading aging infrastructure while minimizing disruption to communities.

SAPPMA and its sister organisation, the Installation and Fabrication Plastics Pipe Association (IFPA) play pivotal roles in ensuring the quality and reliability of plastic pipe systems. Both these organisations ensure that their members adhere to rigorous quality standards through stringent product and process audits – thereby providing assurance to specifiers and end-users alike.

“Our commitment to quality and adherence to standards are integral to promoting the integrity of plastic pipe systems. To this end our stringent audits and certification processes not only distinguish our members in the industry but also offer peace of mind to clients and end-users,” Venter says.

As communities continue to address the challenges of water and sewage management, the adoption of plastic pipe solutions emerges as a sustainable and reliable option. With their durability, practicality, and adherence to stringent standards, plastic pipes are well-equipped to surpass the demands placed on modern sewer systems, ensuring the long-term resilience of vital infrastructure.

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