For companies such as Corzan Industrial Pipe Systems, plastic does make sense. “For years, the industrial market has looked at metals as the only alternative for industrial systems. If they would open their minds to evaluating other possible materials, they might discover that CPVC or other plastics would perform better and be more cost effective,” says Donald R. Townley, P.E., marketing manager of the company.
With the skyrocketing cost of metal, volatile may be the best way to describe how the market expects copper pricing to fare over the next 12 months. “Plastic alternatives have gained market share. This conversion will continue so long as copper remains unstable and at elevated pricing levels,” states the ASA report.
The major manufacturers are the biggest players within this debate, and their concern is apparent. Lee Brass President and CEO Bruce Jameson is currently dealing with the reaction of escalating prices of copper and copper-based alloys. “The higher price is forcing many to look at alternatives such as plastic fittings. This in combination with the housing decline has greatly reduced the demand for smaller diameter copper-based products used in the residential market,” he says. However, economic and technological developments - along with the commercial markets - are said to remain strong, absorbing the potential excess supply.
“We see the market remaining slow through the second quarter with a slight upturn during the third and fourth quarter, but not significant enough to fully make up for the first half-year’s shortfall,” notes Jameson.
Plastic Trends Vice President Sales and Marketing Jay Eversoll agrees with the prediction for the market’s future. “Although commercial/industrial construction is better than the housing market, we still see soft demand,” he says. “This is resulting in over capacity, which will result in downward pressure on pricing. We see these trends continuing throughout 2007.”