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INSIGHTS ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE OF CONCRETE PIPES

 

Peter Sejersen

# 2021 Amsterdam

Environmental Product Declarations of e.g. building products are to a large extent mandatory and we see that the European Union as well as individual Member States are implementing new regulation to secure sustainability in new buildings. The European Commission’s Product Environmental Footprint is one example and the initiatives of green procurement is another one.

During the last years, a large number of EPDs for plastic pipe systems according to ISO14040 and EN15804 were developed. Next to the declaration of own systems the plastic pipe systems are also being compared with traditional materials: Ductile iron for gas and water pressure applications, copper for hot & cold-water applications and concrete for gravity pipes. Plastics performs very well compared with ductile iron and copper whereas the comparison with concrete is a close call: Majority of comparisons shows that the environmental impact of pipes produced from plastics and concrete performs equal within plus/minus 30%. However, it is not a surprise that the

comparisons made by the concrete industry normally claims concrete as a winner in their marketing materials.

But you must careful: The public available databases for concrete such as GaBi and EcoInvent shows different results depending of the selected sub-database and the quality of concrete. The quality needed for making a concrete pipe requires a high cement content and therefore also delivering a higher environmental impact than for most other concrete applications. The databases for high strengths concrete have until lately not been available and older comparison have therefore given an unjustified and unfair advantage to concrete pipes.

The differences were studied in the various databases and mapped out. We can therefore present an updated and un-biased comparison of the environmental performance of concrete pipes vs commonly available plastic pipe systems such as PVC solid wall pipes, PP Twin Wall pipes and co-extruded three-layer pipes with recycled and foamed middle layer. Next the that the comparisons we will also give an insight in how the concrete pipe business market the environmental performance of their products.

Related keywords : Concrete, EcoInvent, EN15804, EPD, LCA.
Please note that the whole article content is available on PPCA website only

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