The plastic drainage materials allowed by codes for use in drain and vent systems are Schedule 40 PVC, and to a lesser extent, Schedule 40 ABS. PVC is white; ABS plastic is black.
PVC has gained almost universal acceptance, so this discussion focuses on it; however, little difference exists between the two plastic in terms of installation. If you have ABS-plastic piping in place, you can make repairs and additions using ABS or PVC fittings, but use the more aggressive PVC joint cement or a universal solvent cement. ABS cement does not bond well enough to PVC.
Advantages and disadvantages. Over the years, plastic has had to overcome an image problem as nothing more than a cheap substitute for metal. Actually, it's hard to imagine a better material for residential waste and vent systems. Almost every conceivable fitting is available in PVC or ABS. Plastic is remarkably easy to install with the simplest of household tools. Once install with the simplest of household tools. Once installed, it's easy to alter. It fits in tight spaces and is universally available at reasonable price. Plastic never rots or corrodes, and it stands up well to caustic drain-cleaning chemicals.
What are its disadvantages? It's noisy. You can hear water run through it, which some homeowners find annoying. It expands and contracts more than cast iron or copper with changes in water temperature, and if it's wedged against structural timbers, it makes a persistent ticking sound with the expansion and contraction. It also tends to have more abrupt flow patterns, which can lead to clogs. But for all of that, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages for most people.
Licensed plumbers often cut PVC pipe with a power miter saw (of cutoff saw), but a PVC saw, hacksaw or tubing cutter works about as well. If you use a hacksaw, be sure to clear the resulting ridges or burrs from the pipe edge before installing it.
Before cementing PVC joints, be sure to deglaze, or prime, both the pipe end and the fitting to roughen the surfaces and make it easier for the solvent to achieve a good bond. You can do this most easily using a primer-sol-vent, but sanding lightly or scuffing with an abrasive pad will also work. Many primers have a bright color additive, called an indicator. This additive has nothing to do with how the primer works, Rather, it tells the plumbing inspector whether or not a primer has been used.
Because primers are thin and tend to run all over the pipe and fitting, indicator colors tend to make a job(as well as hand and clothes) look messy. Understandably, many people prefer primers without indicators are required by code, ugly wins.