What Does the Infrastructure Bill Mean for the HDPE Market?

By Logan Bridges

On November 15, the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill was signed into law. The bill is designed to upgrade the nation’s infrastructure over the next five years and includes new investments in the transportation, energy, water and telecommunications industries. U.S. infrastructure is in need of an upgrade: the American Society of Civil Engineers gave it a grade of C- in the 2021 infrastructure report card. Almost half of the U.S. population does not have access to broadband internet at home, and nearly 22 million homes get their drinking water from lead pipes.

The Infrastructure Bill by the Numbers

  • $40 billion for bridge repairs–the largest bridge investment since the 1950s

  • $11 billion for transportation safety improvements involving highways, trucks, pipelines and hazardous materials

  • $65 billion for improving broadband infrastructure, especially in rural areas

  • $65 billion to rebuild the electric grid by installing new power lines and expanding renewable energy

  • $55 billion for upgrading water infrastructure, including replacing lead pipes

Telecommunications Infrastructure

Schools, workplaces and healthcare are just a few of the aspects of daily life that moved online during the pandemic. But nearly a quarter of the nation does not have access to broadband internet at home, leaving many citizens offline and out of touch. The infrastructure bill aims to change this by expanding broadband access across the country, particularly in rural and underserved areas. In an earlier blog post, we highlighted one of these broadband upgrade projects in Utah.

HDPE conduit plays a critical role in supporting the broadband network. Conduit is used as a raceway to house underground fiber optic and broadband cables. Microduct is versatile and useful for fiber optic applications, as it can house multiple fiber cables. Plastic pipe is durable, low-maintenance, and can be easily installed without significant environmental disruption.


Power Infrastructure

Renewable energy sources like electric vehicles, geothermal and wind turbines are growing in popularity as a clean alternative to fossil fuels. The infrastructure bill includes funding for electric buses and ferries and additional electric vehicle charging stations. However, the nation’s electrical grid must be updated to support the subsequent increased electricity demand. The infrastructure bill will support modernization of the U.S. high-voltage electrical grid.

HDPE conduit houses underground cables for electricity transmission and renewable energy applications like wind turbines. Plastic conduit can store high-voltage lines and keeps electrical cables safe from corrosive environments and natural disasters. It is flexible, will not rust or corrode and has a long service life.

Water Infrastructure

Throughout the U.S., drinking water is transported in lead pipes. The lead from these pipes can leach into water, potentially causing brain and organ damage to anyone who drinks it. Remediating the more than 6 million lead service pipes is a key part of the infrastructure bill, particularly in disadvantaged communities.

Polyethylene pipe is a safe alternative to lead pipes. HDPE does not rust, leak or corrode, and is resistant to bacterial growth. The pipe-bursting method for replacing old lead or cement pipes is well-established. Other installation methods, like trenching and horizontal directional drilling, can also be used for potable water applications.

Future Outlook

In 2021, supply chain and labor shortage issues affected every industry. Resin supply shortages related to extreme weather events were especially challenging for the plastic pipe industry.  

Over the next few years, projects supported by the infrastructure bill will greatly benefit the HDPE market. Plastic pipe is a long-lasting, durable and easy-to-install solution for the infrastructure upgrades our country needs.    


Tags: Water, MicroPath, Conduit, Pressure, HDPE resin