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Life Cycle Assessment of Plastic piping systems



Plastic Pipes Conference Association # 2010 Vancouver

Davidovski Zoran

The European Plastics Pipes and Fittings Association (TEPPFA) deem it important to have an insight into the integral environmental impacts that are encountered during the life-span of particular pipe system applications. With this framework in mind, TEPPFA has set up a project with the Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO). The aim of this project is to carry out a life cycle assessment (LCA) from cradle to grave of 4 specific applications of pipe systems. This analysis outlines the various environmental aspects which accompany the 4 pipe systems, from the primary extraction of raw materials up to and including the end of life (EoL) treatment after their service life time.
The final aim of the project is to establish an environmental product declaration (EPD). The EPD has been made according to the CEN framework (CEN TC 350 draft framework documents, 2008 - 2009).

The study itself is used

  • to support policy concerning sustainable construction;
  • to anticipate future legislation regarding environment and certification (product development);
  • for communication with various stakeholders;
  • to apply for an EPD (Environmental Product Declaration), as described in ISO TR 14025 (ISO, 2006);
  • to focus improvement activities on the most important impact-generating process phase

VITO is the author of this comprehensive LCA study which has been carried out under assignment from TEPPFA. The study was started in early 2009 and was completed in April 2010. The LCA study has been critically reviewed by Denkstatt.
The methodology used to determine the environmental aspects conforms to LCA methodology, as prescribed in ISO standards 14040 and 14044 (ISO, 2006). According to these ISO standards, an LCA is carried out in 4 phases:

  • Goal and scope definition of the study;
  • Life cycle data inventory (LCI);
  • Determining the environmental impacts by means of a life cycle impact assessment (LCIA);
  • Interpretation.

For this project the different environmental impact categories presented in the draft documents prepared within the technical committee CEN TC350 “Sustainability of construction works” are used (CEN TC 350 draft framework documents, 2008 – 2009).
An overview of these categories can be found in the clean version of the prEN15804 (Sustainability of construction works – Environmental Product Declarations – Core rules for the product category of construction products).

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