Since 2010 TEPPFA has issued a number of EPD’s (Environmental Product Declaration) to describe the environmental impact of plastic pipe systems, thus providing a transparent way for stakeholders in the building industry to track how our products affect the environment in a number of categories. In total there are now EPD’s of 22 systems.
It is of course also of interest to test how plastic pipe systems compare with traditional materials like copper, ductile iron and concrete. On top of the EPD’s we have added a number of comparisons with the traditional materials. As suspected, the plastic systems outperform the old materials – also in environmental matters.
The latest comparison we did was on rain gutter systems. As starting point we defined a “functional unit” which in this case was: “The collection and gravity withdrawal of rainwater from a typical gable roof by a half-round gutter system. Rain gutter opening 120mm, two downpipes, Ø80mm, height of house: 5,8m and roof surface: 56m2”. The expected lifetime of all systems is 50 years.
For a rain gutter system the competing materials on the market are galvanized steel, Titan-Zinc and aluminium. The data used to calculate the environmental impact of PVC systems was collected among the TEPPFA members and the data for the metal systems came from the European Union database and World Steel Organisation. All data was processed by the Flemish institute VITO, with a critical review conducted by the Austrian LCA expert Denkstatt.
The result is encouraging for our products: the environmental performance of the PVC system is better than any of the competing systems. As an example the Global Warming impact of the PVC system is 65% of the impact from the galvanized steel system, 30% of the impact of the Titan-Zinc system and 55% of the aluminium system. It is no surprise that Titan-Zinc systems have the highest impact as zinc is known for negatively impacting the environment.
The results can be seen on our website where you can also download the EPD’s.