New Report Reviews Underground Piping Systems

April 26, 2017
Sustainable Solutions Corp. releases first report of its kind in North America

Sustainable Solutions Corp. (SSC) has released the “Life Cycle Assessment of PVC Water and Sewer Pipe and Comparative Sustainability Analysis of Pipe Materials,” the first comprehensive environmental review of underground piping systems in North America.

Based on a 100-year life cycle assessment methodology, the review includes a study of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe conducted according to life cycle assessment (LCA) standards ISO 14040 series. The life cycle analysis used in the report was peer reviewed by an international panel of experts for ISO 14040 series compliance. The review also makes reference to the 2015 Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) for PVC Pipe, which complies with ISO 14025 standards and was independently certified by global health organization NSF Intl.

To ensure industry transparency, Uni-Bell PVC Pipe Assn. commissioned SSC as independent experts to perform an LCA for commonly used PVC pipes for drinking water, sanitary sewer and storm sewer piping covering the 4- to 60-in. rigid PVC pipe market. The pipe encompassed by this study is representative of PVC pipe manufactured in the U.S. and Canada, which uses a tin-based stabilizer and does not contain phthalates, lead or cadmium. This comprehensive study also contains a comparative review of the corresponding alternative pipe products based on publicly available information on durability, smoothness factors and statistical data, as well as environmental data when available.

At a time when aging piping infrastructure, underground corroded pipe materials, and water quality issues are at the forefront, the intention of this report is to help to address significant issues with the national water and wastewater infrastructure. Based on the results of this study, PVC pipe provides both environmental and economic advantages to solving the water infrastructure needs for utilities and municipal projects. PVC pipe is shown to have fewer environmental impacts from a life cycle and carbon footprint perspective when compared to alternative materials, including lower embodied energy, lower use-phase energy and longer life attributes.

"The PVC pipe industry is the only pipe material that has transparently reported their sustainability and environmental impacts. This is welcome information for both policy makers and utility professionals to make fully informed decisions in their efforts to improve underground infrastructure with sustainable products," said Tad Radzinski, president, SSC.

The report synthesizes complex sustainability information in order to provide information in regard to piping systems. Among its many findings, the study shows that the energy required to pump water through PVC pipe over a 100-year design life remains constant because PVC pipe walls are smooth and do not roughen over time. This generates overall life cycle cost savings and a lower carbon footprint compared to alternative materials that require more pumping energy over time due to corrosion, leaks and internal degradation. SSC encourages municipal officials and other stakeholders to consider this report when evaluating the life cycle costing of water infrastructure and making sustainable piping decisions.

The comparative sustainability analysis references more than 200 sources and studies to provide up-to-date and comprehensive industry reviews of the health, safety, performance characteristics and sustainability attributes of different pipe materials available. The PVC Pipe LCA and EPD support the goals and vision of the 2010 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water Infrastructure Sustainability Policy and the 2015 EPA National Water Program on Climate Change for ensuring the long-term sustainability of water infrastructure.

Click here for a copy of the “Life Cycle Assessment of PVC Water and Sewer Pipe and Comparative Sustainability Analysis of Pipe Materials” report.

Source: Sustainable Solutions Corp.

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