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Copper theft fuels plastic pipe sales
Published:  03 May, 2011

The widespread thefts of copper pipework from UK construction sites is driving sales of plastic alternatives, says pipe manufacturer Durapipe UK.

The widespread thefts of copper pipework from UK construction sites is driving sales of plastic alternatives, says pipe manufacturer Durapipe UK.

The raw material price of copper rose by up to 27% for smaller copper tube (15mm to 42mm) and as much as 38% for larger sizes (54mm to 108mm). The scrap metal value has also risen considerably.

These price hikes have led to copper thefts being reported throughout the country, with a police task force launched in February to tackle the growing problem.

Plumbers report increasing incidents of copper pipe theft from sites. Neil Rickaby from Acorn Plumbing and Heating said: "During construction of The Avenue in Eaglescliffe, Durham, the site suffered from multiple thefts of copper for re-sale.

"We needed to look for alternative materials that would reduce the risk for us."

Durapipe reports sales of its plastic pipes, fittings and valves up by over 25% in the last 12 months, which it attributes to plumbers changing from copper to plastic.

Mitchell Holmes, Durapipe UK's marketing manager, said: "Copper thefts are a major issue for the UK construction industry and simply by specifying an alternative material, this threat is completely eradicated.

"Over the last 12 months we have seen an unprecedented number of contractors convert from metal to plastic pipework systems. In fact, a significant number of our orders during this time period have been placed purely to avoid the risk of copper thefts."