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Polyethylene Cladding Ban in Australia

November 10, 2017 0 Comments

As you may be aware, after the Grenfell Tower fire a Senate Inquiry was put in place to investigate Non-Conforming Building Products in Australia. The result was a total ban on the importation, sale and use of Polyethylene (PE) Core Aluminium Composite. The ban states that aluminium cladding containing a flammable polyethylene must not be used in any building in Australia and should be expelled as a matter of urgency.

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Banning all Polyethylene (PE) Core Aluminium Composite

The Senate Inquiry report states “In light of the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy, the committee does not consider there to be any legitimate use of PE core ACPs on any building type. The committee believes that as there are safe non-flammable and fire-retardant alternatives available there is no place for PE core ACPs in the Australian market.”

The use of polyethylene (PE) core aluminium composite was brought to the public’s attention throughout Australia in 2014 after the fire incident in the Lacrosse Apartment Building in Melbourne. The Grenfell Tower in London was also clad in this material.

The product is not safe to be used on any building, and this was stressed within the inquiry, and a request that strategies be put in place to ensure the products are completely banned from any building project. This will also help the Australian Border Force and suppliers of ACM overcome their current dilemma of determining whether an imported building product will be used in a compliant manner. If all PE core ACPs are banned (both importation, sale, and use of) this will safeguard against any grey areas.

These PE products don’t comply with the Australian Standards in the first place. Indeed, the use of combustible cladding on high-rise buildings was already banned under the National Construction Code previous to the inquiry. And while the eyes of the public are focused on high-rise building products, PE core ACPs are still being used in low-rise buildings, pathways, etc. despite the compliancy issues. While the building codes are strict, this situation is yet another reminder that a high percentage of non-compliant building products are still being imported and used by builders and being pushed by unscrupulous suppliers, despite the rules. The problem isn’t specific to polyethylene cladding – asbestos and other dangerous materials are still getting through today. Tragically, certain players within the building and construction industry are simply ignoring the Australian building codes and standards. 🙁

With all of these issues being raised by industry-specific groups throughout Australia, the Committee listed the following recommendations:

  • Establish a national licensing scheme with continued professional development for construction professionals,
  • Come up with a process that ensures all supply chain participants be accountable for non-conforming products,
  • The Commonwealth Government consider making all Australian Standards and Codes an open source,
  • The Commonwealth consider vetoing building practitioners who fail to build in accordance with the code, and
  • Protect the end users in the residential strata sector through a nationally consistent statutory duty of care.

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