Sustainability Statement

Plastic piping systems are a sustainable and environmentally responsible choice that will serve generations to come. They are energy efficient during manufacturing and provide peak protection from contamination during service. Strong, durable, lightweight and flexible, these piping systems require significantly less energy to fabricate, transport and install than metal or concrete alternatives. With superior resistance to corrosion and abrasion, plastic piping systems also supply long service life, excellent joint performance and offer leak-free protection — all adding up to an exceptional value.

Plastic piping systems have a variety of attributes that make them the sustainable and environmentally-responsible choice. A low carbon footprint, light weight and fuel-efficient shipping, safe inert raw materials, long service life, and recyclability are among the many features and benefits that make plastic piping system the preferential choice.

Green Sustainability

Plastic pipe systems are a smart environmental solution. While sustainable design and purchasing are not new to the construction industry, sustainability is often overlooked in infrastructure design and construction. At the same time, the public is often concerned about the quality and availability of water, but ignores the materials that actually convey that very precious resource. The use of plastic piping materials offers a huge opportunity to make a positive impact today on the quality of our environment in the future.

Plastic piping systems are a sustainable and environmentally responsible choice. A low carbon footprint, light weight and fuel-efficient shipping, safe inert raw materials, long service life, and recyclability are among the many features and benefits that make plastic piping systems the preferential choice.

Loading video


Carbon Footprint & Global Warming Potential

Low carbon footprint is one key attribute of thermoplastic pipe. The low energy input required for processing the raw material into the finished product, along with the low weight per linear foot of pipe, give thermoplastic pipe products a lower carbon footprint from cradle to grave.

The carbon footprint advantage is also seen when shipping the product to the construction site. Low weight per foot allows for more linear feet of thermoplastic pipe to be carried per truck. Fewer trucks per delivery coupled with a lightweight load lead to less fuel consumption per delivery, which in turn reduces greenhouse gas emissions. For example, PPI data shows that most states allow a maximum load of 80,000 pounds when trucks have from four to seven axles. The largest single delivery for RCP would be restricted to just 64 ft of pipe. For comparison, the same truck could deliver 320 ft of corrugated HDPE pipe. If 640 linear ft of pipe was needed for a project, it would take just two trips to deliver all the needed plastic pipe versus 10 trips for RCP.

When comparing the global warming potential of storm products, it is critical that all aspects of the product be considered. True global warming potential includes more than just the greenhouse gases resulting from pipe production; it should also consider delivery, installation, and even disposal of the product at the end of its service life. While the greenhouse gas contribution from the different phases may vary, it is the total contribution that really matters. The following table identifies percentages of greenhouse gas contribution from varying aspects for common pipe types. The accompanying bar graph also identifies contributions but, more importantly, shows the total greenhouse gas contribution. Both the chart and the graph also consider the effects of the disposal method at the end of service life. Regardless of the disposal type - landfill, abandoned in place, or removal for recycling - PE piping has the lowest total greenhouse gas production of all pipe types.

LEED Credits

There are a variety of green/sustainable building and construction rating systems in the marketplace today. Many of these programs provide credits and incentives for sustainable designs and product selection. The U.S. Building Council (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) program, the IGC International Green Construction Code, and the ISI Envision Program are some of the more well-known programs in the market today.

There are many different applications in which corrugated thermoplastic products can assist in obtaining LEED credits. For example, detention systems can be used for stormwater runoff rate control, but they can also reduce potable water use by serving as a rainwater harvesting cistern. Water quality products and catch basin inserts can be used to achieve water quality and pollution prevention requirements. The recycled content in some pipes and the overall low carbon footprint are advantages when targeting credits relating to greenhouse gas emissions.

To qualify for the U.S. Green Building Council rating system, projects must be registered and utilize sustainable products and practices in accordance with the applicable LEED Rating System. LEED certification is recognized nationwide as proof that a building is environmentally responsible, profitable, and a healthy place to live and work. LEED certified buildings qualify for tax rebates, zoning allowances and other incentives in hundreds of cities.

Additionally, corrugated thermoplastic pipe and water quality products can help compliance with the demands of the EPA's Clean Water Act.

Check with your provider for products that qualify.

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)

For decades, thermoplastic pipe — high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and polypropylene (PP) — has been known to stand up to tough environments including toxic waste and high pH levels. Its projected 100-year service life has been documented by independent studies and government agencies such as the Departments of Transportation.

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) studies for HDPE pipe estimate that the total energy consumption is approximately 95 MJ per kg of pipe (approx. 26 kWh per kg of pipe). In accordance with Table 6.4, HDPE pipe has the lowest projected environmental impact due to its low-energy consumption during manufacturing, reduced product weight, superior shipping efficiencies, ease of installation, and outstanding material durability characteristics.

Table 6.4