Forcing Taxpayers To Pay More For Inferior Water Pipes? It’s a Losing Proposition

Forcing Taxpayers To Pay More For Inferior Water Pipes? It’s a Losing Proposition

The infrastructure debate is about to take center stage in Congress – where the issue of spending federal funds to replace deteriorating state water pipe systems will soon come into focus. But if the iron pipe lobby has its way, cities will be forced to use ductile iron pipe for these federally-funded projects, despite competing materials that exist which are less expensive and last twice as long

Surprise! Post Sponsored by Wood Siding Manufacturer on BobVila.com Distorts the Truth about Vinyl Siding

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Engineered wood siding company LP Outdoor Building Products (LP) has sponsored an article on BobVila.com that unsurprisingly contains a number of distortions and misleading claims about vinyl siding. To add to the brazenness and clear bias of the piece, the site features a banner ad prominently above the piece promoting LP’s products, as you can see in the screenshot above.

Before we dive into the number of glaringly erroneous claims about vinyl siding contained in this piece, we should point out that the article ends with a disclaimer stating that the post was sponsored by LP. Of course, this disclaimer is code for, “We’re being paid to shamelessly promote LP’s distortions about vinyl siding, but we want to give you the (mis)impression that these are our own opinions.”  

The piece absurdly claims that vinyl siding doesn’t meet the standards for wood siding developed by LP – the wood siding manufacturer that sponsored the article. Of course, the article omits the fact that vinyl siding meets or exceeds stringent standards set by an independent, third party standards-development organization (ASTM International). And LP ignores that vinyl siding is subject to an independently-administrated third-party certification program to ensure adherence to those standards. 

This next claim rests on the false assumption that using a grill near a structure like a shed is a good idea. But unlike vinyl siding, engineered wood siding is prone to ignition at relatively low temperatures. A grill close enough to a building to melt vinyl siding runs the risk of charring or igniting engineered wood siding at the same distance. Additionally, wood siding requires paint, which would bubble up or darken when exposed to the same high temperatures required to thermally distort vinyl siding. And while there have been cases of concentrated reflected sunlight igniting wood building materials, there have been no such cases involving vinyl siding.

Both vinyl siding and engineered wood siding, like any building product, must be properly installed in order to realize their potential performance. And both products are vulnerable to installation mistakes. But even this article admits that the installation of vinyl siding is more straightforward than engineered wood siding, which means it is more likely to be installed properly.

Of course, LP – the real author of this sponsored post – fails to mention any steps the wood siding manufacturer takes to ensure its product is properly installed. The vinyl siding industry, on the other hand, sponsors a third-party installer certification program and works with other agencies to facilitate training of vinyl siding installers – making it the ONLY cladding backed up by both a third-party product certification program and a third-party installer certification program.

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As you would expect from a sponsored post, the article paid ad gets this part completely wrong. Many vinyl siding manufacturers offer 16-foot lengths, just as LP offers 12-foot panel lengths and lower. Some companies have even produced lengths of vinyl siding up to 25 feet.

As if the shameless self-promotion wasn’t already apparent, LP attempts to sell the reader on LP’s installation services right after the article admits that vinyl siding is easier to install.

We would hope that even in a sponsored post, BobVila.com would have the sense to provide a balanced conversation on benefits of vinyl siding. And despite the disclaimer, it seems blatantly apparent to us that BobVila.com had very little to do with the composition of this piece, and were financially motivated to blindly traffic LP’s distortions and mislead its readers about vinyl siding.

Breaking Down DIPRA’s False Narrative

We’ve written extensively here at Vinyl Verified about the Ductile Iron Pipe Research Association’s (DIPRA) years-long misinformation campaign to deceive the public about PVC pipe.  We thought we’d take a look back at the iron pipe industry, and the many ways it’s distorted the facts to protect its failing monopoly, and line its pockets at the expense of American taxpayers.

1. DIPRA represents old-technology iron pipe manufacturers. About a hundred years ago, the iron pipe industry produced one of the few materials that could deliver water underground. But that’s not the case anymore.

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2. America’s infrastructure is deteriorating, and the vast majority of pipe material that’s crumbling underground today is made of cast iron.

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3. But thick-walled cast iron pipe is too too expensive to use today. So the iron pipe industry had to figure out another solution.   

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4. So DIPRA’s members started producing “ductile iron pipe,” because it’s cheaper to manufacture and transport. DIPRA desperately wants the public to believe ductile iron pipe is the toughest material on the market today. But that’s not true. …

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5. Ductile iron pipe’s walls are considerably thinner than cast iron. And it requires a cement liner, which degrades and cracks over time, driving up pumping costs.

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6. In an attempt to make ductile iron pipe last longer,  ductile iron pipe users must pay for corrosion prevention control methods which are mostly ineffective (DIPRA doesn’t talk much about that. …)

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7. And like cast iron pipe, ductile iron pipe is prone to corrosion, which is one of the main reasons our nation’s underground pipe infrastructure is crumbling.

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8. For a long time, the iron pipe industry was accustomed to being the only game in town.

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9. Fortunately, material innovations have taken place over the last 60 years that no longer limit taxpayers to pipe materials that corrode and break years before they should.

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10. One such product is PVC pipe, which has become the material of choice for a growing number of municipalities across America in replacing their old corroding iron pipes.

 
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11. PVC pipe lasts twice as long as ductile iron pipe.  It’s more durable and affordable, too.

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12. But DIPRA’s members don’t like other materials competing with them. So DIPRA has embarked on a distortion campaign to mislead the public about PVC pipe. The group even funded a flawed study that misquoted a notable scientist regarding PVC pipe’s longevity. And when those errors were pointed out to DIPRA, the group not only didn’t correct the study – they kept on promoting it.

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13. What’s more, DIPRA is trying to make iron pipe the ONLY material available to select municipalities. They’ve sent letters, like this one, pressuring mayors across the country to block open competition and exclude PVC pipe from the material decision table.

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14. DIPRA doesn’t want its members to compete fairly with PVC pipe, because they know it will loosen the iron pipe industry’s grip over the marketplace.

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15. But even kids know that fair competition benefits consumers -- because it lowers prices and fuels innovation.

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16. And the facts show that when open competition for water pipe materials occurs, municipalities can save approximately 30 to 50 percent even when iron pipe is the selected material.

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17. Because that’s what open competition does. It benefits everyone.

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18. Open competition also allows city engineers to have complete authority to make their own material choices.  

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19. But DIPRA is working hard to stifle competition because it doesn’t serve the interests of iron pipe manufacturers. The iron pipe industry wants total command over the market, where it can charge cities whatever they please – and force Americans to pay thousands more for an inferior material that lasts roughly half as long as PVC pipe.

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20. Burton, MI found that its installed ductile iron pipe lasted only 15 years.  So Burton’s mayor opted to replace its pipes with PVC pipe. And now the city has clean, reliable water service at a fraction of the cost.

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21. And more cities around the nation are doing the same.

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These are the facts. And we will continue to tell them, so that the public understands what the iron pipe industry is doing to put its own interests above those of hard working American taxpayers.

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Louisiana-Pacific Corp. Deceives Builder Online Readers on Vinyl Siding

Louisiana-Pacific Corp. Deceives Builder Online Readers on Vinyl Siding

A quick read of a recent piece in Builder Online about new-home construction siding options misleads readers to think that all non-wood siding materials, including vinyl, carry a heavy environmental impact.  A closer look reveals that the article is actually a paid advertisement by the engineered wood siding makers at Louisiana-Pacific (LP) Corporation – which spreads falsehoods and deceives readers about its competitors simply to promote its own product line.

LP’s distortions conveniently ignore the fact that vinyl siding offers far more environmental advantages over its entire life cycle than engineered wood siding.  Vinyl siding is built to last, where warranties guaranteeing its service life typically extend 40-50 years. LP’s Smartside warranty starts to diminish after just five years – which imposes a cumulative burden on the environment based on the frequent need to repair or replace Smartside material over a building’s lifetime.

We’re puzzled that LP would expect readers to take its environmental claims seriously when the company hasn’t published any LCA data whatsoever on its Smartside product line.  We’ll base our positions on the facts: vinyl siding is one of the best environmental performance products on the market. That conclusion is supported by BEES, the official life cycle analysis (LCA) tool administered by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).  What’s more, the certification program by Home Innovation Research Labs – a leading green products listing group – cites the environmental attributes of a number of polymeric sidings, including vinyl siding. (LP’s Smartside didn’t make the list.)

LP irresponsibly misleads readers to believe vinyl siding contributes to the small particles of plastic in our environment – but that’s not the case. Such pollution is primarily caused by the improper disposal of single use plastic consumer products. Vinyl siding removed from buildings at the end of its service life typically isn’t irresponsibly disposed or thrown into the ocean – any portion that isn’t recycled is usually landfilled, minimizing the chance that any material particles will be released over time.  LP conveniently omits this in its advertisement.

LP deceives the public about dioxin emissions, too. Burning wood, whether in fireplaces, forest fires, or accidental fires is a major source of dioxin emissions to air and water. The company’s claim that vinyl siding is a significant contributor of it is categorically false. For this reason: The production of vinyl products, including vinyl siding, has grown dramatically over the past 25 years – but the dioxin level in our environment has decreased by more than 90 percent over the same time period.  It’s further proof LP’s distortions about vinyl siding are competitively driven and entirely unreliable.

We’re curious how Builder Online would allow such a grossly inaccurate advertisement, formatted to look as if it was a piece of original content, to appear on its website.

Readers deserve far better than this.

Clickbait Fear Mongering By Reader's Digest

When journalists pretend to be experts on topics they know little about, their readers are ultimately the ones who suffer. Lauren Cahn of Reader’s Digest is a good example.

In a recent story entitled, “15 Things in Your Home That Can Cause Cancer,”  Ms. Cahn mixes unscientific analysis with out-of-context findings to give readers the false impression that perfectly safe consumer products might be hazardous to human health. In what can only be described as a clickbait hit job, her story cites dubious content – and drives an uninformed perspective that only serves to instill irrational fear among her readers.

And Reader’s Digest bears notable responsibility here, too, for allowing Ms. Cahn’s careless story to appear. To see this once respected publication stoop to such a low standard is just the latest example of how race-to-the-bottom-journalism has perpetuated rampant misinformation about vinyl material.

Ms. Cahn’s piece relies on rumors, long refuted speculation, and holistic living websites. And she irresponsibly perpetuates the notion that exposure, at any level, can create a human health risk – when the facts show that simply isn’t true. It’s the amount of exposure, and the specific chemical, that matters.

But Ms. Cahn completely dismisses this basic scientific principle and, instead, offers a slew of misguided advice across a wide spectrum of products and chemicals. We’ll focus specifically on her distortions regarding vinyl and PVC.  And our analysis will lean heavily on the scientific record: 

PVC Pipe Supports our Nation's Firefighters

PVC Pipe Supports our Nation's Firefighters

Firefighters display their valor every day by confronting dangerous situations on behalf of a grateful American public. We owe it to them to ensure they have the most state-of-the-art equipment available, and give them every possible advantage to courageously combat the unimaginable environments they face where human lives are often at stake.

A particular technology has helped an increasing number of firefighters perform their heroism under optimum working conditions in recent decades. Surprisingly, many of them have likely never seen it, because it lies underground.  And while this advancement doesn’t receive much praise or attention, it’s expected to be a centerpiece of the upcoming Congressional effort to improve our nation’s water infrastructure.

It’s PVC water pipe. And communities nationwide are using it to replace failing iron pipe at a record pace. That’s understandable, because PVC pipe is the more sustainable, long-term choice for meeting the needs of Americans, including our nation’s firefighters. Its lightweight composition requires less energy to transport compared to heavy iron pipe. And its longevity results in fewer breakages and road repairs, which in turn reduces traffic disruptions that not only frustrate commuters, but can create costly delays for our firefighters, too.

Iron pipe is prone to corrosion (PVC pipe is not), which is largely why iron pipes have been breaking at an alarming rate. Reports of iron pipe failures skyrocketed during the stretch of freezing temperatures that blanketed the east coast in recent months.  One such iron pipe break in the DC-Metro area caused a horrific mix of water and sewage to damage at least six local residences.  

Iron pipe’s limitations create real world complications for firefighters. These brave men and women depend on good pressure to arrest the spread of fire. Corrosion not only weakens iron pipe, but over time, the diameter of iron pipe narrows, which restricts the flow of water and reduces overall water pressure. This is one of the many reasons why Burton, MI Mayor Paula Zelenko elected to replace her city’s broken iron pipe system with PVC pipe. “Fire protection is, indeed, improved by PVC in Burton,” she wrote. “The lower costs of PVC allowed us to replace more lines, servicing more homes, hydrants, and getting the water to the fire with good pressure instead of it failing through the corrosion of old pipes or breaking the old lines entirely due to water pressure.”

Firefighters can’t afford to question whether high-pressure water will be available to them when they arrive at a scene when every second counts. We can’t risk a broken iron water main, or a corroded iron pipe that can’t deliver, to impede their ability to do their job when lives are on the line. Firefighters put themselves at risk every day in the name of public safety. The least we can do is provide them with the most advanced tools and material resources that will best equip them to pursue their noble mission.

Greenpeace Fixation on PVC Ignores Real Threats Driving Electronics Waste

Greenpeace Fixation on PVC Ignores Real Threats Driving Electronics Waste

As electronic waste continues to grow at alarming and unsustainable rates, one can conclude that Greenpeace’s decades long campaign to rate electronics manufacturers is an utter failure.

But Greenpeace continues to honor specific manufacturers in its annual rating of these companies that haven’t taken any measurable steps to reduce their global waste production.

Why? The answer lies in the extremist group’s obsession with PVC and other materials – and its refusal to confront the real issues regarding electronics waste buildup around the world.

The 2017 edition of Greenpeace’s annual “Guide to Greener Electronics” predictably distorts the facts on PVC – and recommends ill-conceived proposals that exacerbate the impact discarded electronics products have on our environment.

Greenpeace’s agenda-driven opposition to PVC is well documented. For decades, the extremist organization has misled the public about PVC, and tried to force companies to capitulate to its demands to remove the material from their products.

The group’s electronics guide is no different, as it compels manufacturers who wish to receive a star review that they must avoid using PVC altogether. 

But that very advice is contributing to the overwhelming number of electronics that are being thrown away in record numbers – often in landfills around the world– each and every year.  From 2014 to 2016, electronics waste (also known as “e-waste”) increased eight percent, totaling nearly 100 billion pounds. And that figure is expected to rise another 17 percent by 2021

The most effective way this trend can reverse itself is if electronics companies are incentivized to reuse their own plastic. Companies must be encouraged to establish recovery programs where they can recycle their parts and materials.  This would lead to a dramatic reduction in the amount of e-waste we generate every year, and would help curb the buildup of electronics products destined for landfills across the country, and around the world.

Instead, Greenpeace recommendations focus on restricting materials, and dissuading companies from using PVC– a material with proven life-cycle environmental advantages that can be recovered and reused to minimize landfill waste. It seems Greenpeace would rather see electronics manufacturers use inferior materials that have nowhere near the longevity, durability, recyclability, and cost-efficiency, of PVC.

That’s not empty rhetoric. One major electronics producer discontinued using PVC in its power cords after enduring intimidation by Greenpeace – only to find that the replacement material they chose was not nearly as strong.  The products would break repeatedly, affecting millions of customers, where many users simply threw them away – forcing these customers to prematurely replace their failed power cords. 

How, exactly, does that serve the best interests of the environment?

Today, some companies go to extreme lengths to use post-consumer plastic simply to appease groups like Greenpeace, when such practices yield a negative environmental result.  Some electronics manufacturers ship ground-up plastic water bottles half way around the world just to they can say they use the material in their products. The carbon footprint of such policies is enormous and entirely unsustainable.  And it would make far more sense for these companies to establish programs where they are able to reuse their own materials, including PVC, again and again. 

But Greenpeace’s ideological opposition toward PVC and other safe substances incapacitates any such rational or practical thinking, even when it stands to make a positive environmental impact.

If Greenpeace really wanted to confront the e-waste problem, it would call on manufacturers to set their material take-back rate equal to the growth of global e-waste production – which would create a neutral environmental impact going forward.

Instead, the organization continues to pressure companies to change material composition, which hasn’t addressed the growing problem of e-waste around the world.  Greenpeace prefers to scare readers with disingenuous scenarios about PVC disposal. And the electronics guide tries to incite hysteria about burning electronics that might contain PVC – when it clearly knows that such illegal open-burning practices emit a plethora of persistent and bio-accumulative toxins from a host of materials in these devices, whether PVC is present or not. The idea that eliminating PVC would somehow make uncontrolled burning safer is entirely false and remarkably deceiving.

But what’s most puzzling is the fact that the electronics guide praises certain companies, rewarding them with a favorable rating, for adopting Greenpeace’s illogical policies when these very manufacturers haven’t made a calculable contribution toward reducing their e-waste generation.

The statistics confirm that Greenpeace’s policies on e-waste haven’t achieved any real progress. Greenpeace first began its electronics campaign two decades ago. And with e-waste expected to rise another 17 percent over the next three years, the group’s fixation on PVC – and refusal to examine the larger issues of landfill diversion – prove its recommendations have failed to address the core problem.

If Greenpeace is truly committed to reducing the impact of e-waste, it would put aside its anti-PVC agenda – and confront the real threats regarding the growing amount of e-waste in our planet’s landfills.