What is the environmental impact of PE pipe?
The environmental impact of a pipe in service is a function of the leakage of transported material that it permits to the surrounding environment.
The environmental impact from leakage of polyethylene pipe is less than that from the equivalent iron or steel pipe due to the lower frequency of leakage. However consideration should be given to the nature of the fluid being transported and the potential effect on the environment should third party damage occur.
Exfiltration occurs from the permeation of the fluid, particularly gas, from within the pipe through the pipe wall to the external environment. The level of permeation depends upon the type of fluid being carried, the internal pressure and the wall thickness of the pipe. National and international standards set the maximum allowable level of permeation, for example the transmission rate per millimetre of pipe thickness for methane may not exceed 75 cm3/m3/24h/bar.
Where particularly hazardous fluids are being transported then sensible precautions should be taken on the location of such pipelines near to potable water pipes, aquifers or watercourses. This is true for all pipe materials.
Environmental Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) Also referred to as life cycle inventory or cradle-to-grave study, LCA has been carried out on PE manufactured and used for pipe applications. The Life Cycle Analysis for PE pipe estimates that the total energy consumption from extraction to installation is approximately 95 MJ per kg. of pipe (approx. 26 kWh per kg. of pipe). Full life cycle analysis, which takes into account not only energy consumption but also effects from emissions etc., indicate that...
PE pipe can easily be recycled The end product depends on the condition of the pipe. As there is minimal material degradation during the pipe manufacturing process, rejected pipe material, for example from start up or errors in processing, can be 100% recycled back into pipe and can meet all the required performance parameters. The level of material waste in manufacturing is therefore very low. PE pipe reclaimed after use is unlikely to have the required characteristics for reuse in the same...