Environmental Product Declaration
The EPD TEPPFA project
The European Plastic Pipes and Fittings Association (TEPPFA) is keen to raise awareness of the value that plastic pipe systems offer for a sustainable future. We commissioned an independent study by the Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO) to measure the environmental footprint of various plastic pipe systems based on life-cycle assessment. The work was validated by the Denkstatt sustainability consultancy in Austria.
An important objective was to provide transparency about the impact of plastic pipe systems on our environment. It was also an important step in the development of the Environmental Product Declarations for plastic pipes.
The results of the TEPPFA study were very positive for all the application areas and confirmed an excellent environmental performace of plastic pipes for utilities and building applications.
Twelve application areas
Twelve application areas were selected for the life-cycle assessment of plastic pipes, covering both the supply and drainage-sewage sides:
Soil and waste applications
Polypropylene pipe systems for soil and waste removal in buildings (PP soil& waste);
Polyvinylchloride pipe system for soil and waste removal in the building (PVC).
Water distribution applications (pressure)
Polyethylene pipe systems for water distribution (PE);
Unplasticized Polyvinylchloride MRS 25 MPa, pipe system for water distribution (PVC-U MRS 25 MPa);
Bi-oriented Polyvinylchloride, MRS 31,5 MPa pipe system for water distribution (PVC-O MRS 31,5 MPa);
Bi-oriented Polyvinylchloride MRS 45 MPa pipe system for water distribution (PVC-O MRS 45 MPa).
Sewage applications (non-pressure)
PVC solid-wall sewer pipe systems for drainage and sewage (PVC solid wall);
Polyvinylchloride multilayer sewer pipe system with a foamed core (PVC Multilayer Foam);
Polyvinylchloride (PVC-U) multilayer sewer pipe system with a core of foam and recyclates (PVC Multilayer Foam + Recyclates);
Polypropylene structured (twin) wall sewer pipe system (PP sewer twin wall).
Plumbing, Hot & Cold applications
- Cross-linked polyethylene pipe systems for hot and cold water for buildings (PEX solid wall);
- Polymer/Al/Polymer composite pipe system for hot and cold water in the building (Polymer/Al/Polymer ML).
Life-cycle assessment (LCA) provides the most recognised method to quantify environmental impacts of products, processes and/or systems. It shows the environmental effects of a product over its entire life cycle, including extraction of raw materials, production of materials and the product, construction, use and end-of-life treatment.
An Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) offers a standard way of communicating the output from such a life-cycle assessment, enables the user to assess the environmental impact of a pipe system and allows comparisons to be made with alternative products at the system level - trench, building,..
The life-cycle impact of the system on the environment can be divided into six categories:
- Abiotic depletion
Over-extraction of minerals and other non-living materials leads to exhaustion of our natural resources.
- Acidification potential
Acidic emissions, such as sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, from manufacturing processes harm our soil, water supplies, human and animal organisms, and our ecosystem.
- Eutrophication potential
Eutrophication results from over-fertilisation of water and soil by human activity, speeding up plant growth and killing animal life in lakes and waterways.
- Global warming potential (CO2 equivalent)
The insulating effect of greenhouse gasses in our atmosphere is a major contributor to global warming, affecting our health and that of the ecosystem in which we live.
- Ozone-depletion potential
Depletion of the ozone layer in the atmosphere caused by the emission of chemical foaming and cleaning agents allows the passage of greater levels of UV from the sun, causing skin cancer and reducing crop yields.
- Photochemical oxidation potential
The photochemical reaction of sunlight with hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides leads to atmospheric pollution such as chemical smogs that affect our health and that of our ecosystem and food crops.
Many companies and institutes contributed to the work of this study, including Plastics Europe, TNO and PVC4pipes Association. Data was collected from 60% of companies within the European pipe industry.
TEPPFA participants were: