Case Studies, Discussion & Buyer's Guide # 1972 Southampton
Chairman: Speakers have often mentioned the purpose and use of the products, and if I was speaking only from the building side I would say that perhaps in this day and age one needs to think of more than just current use. The environment, and the building environment particularly, is a complex thing. There are innovations and changes in user habits quite apart from whether they are going to change from cast iron to plastics materials. There could be vast changes in conditions brought about by something unusual - for example when coal gas was first piped through as a lighting medium it killed off the oil lamp industry completely. Later on electricity generating killed off the gas lighting industry. You do not have pantries in houses any more because the refrigeration industry has produced an amenity which everybody wants.
Therefore the plastics industry will have to consider more than just what the purpose will be today. You may find with plastics drainage for example that considerable quantities of hot water may be piped through them because everybody starts to use the launderette. You may well find a change in user habits which is not only difficult to forecast, but which is also completely unsystematic even though it can be very rapid.
The second point hat worries me is in the standards situation. In Europe, in the building industry at least, considerably more controls are applied than are applied in this country. There is at the moment a Green Paper on the system of control to be applied within the building industry, and published statements are also being revised. We have to think not only of standards but also of codes of practice for these items. There is in fact a new committee to be started by British Standards on quality assurance withii the building industry which will attempt to put on a formal basis the type of control which Germany and France will be more familiar with than we are, from manufacture right through to assembly on site.