Sustainability & Regulation Approval # 2004 Milan
In this contribution we summarise investigations how the three sustainability areas ecology, economy and society can be converted one into the other, how they are correlated etc. Results are explained with the example of different pipe systems made from PVC and other materials. The most important economical criterion, (life cycle) cost, is a scarce resource like ecology and highly connected to ecology and social development. It can be converted into ecological criteria as follows : Money is invested into thermal insulation of a house wall e.g., thus saving heating energy. Then primary energy resources and a lot of emissions connected to the use of these resources for heating, like CO2, NOx, CO, PAH, Hg etc. are saved. The saved ecological impacts are quantified and put into relation to the cost necessary to achieve these savings. The most important result is :
• Economical advantages are much more important (40 times in the case of pipe systems) than ecological advantages in the following sense : Investing 100% of the cost of a pipe system to finance ecological sensible optimisations will result in a factor of 40 higher savings of energy e.g., than is used to produce the pipe system. From this other results can be derived :
• Cost advantages of products can be used in extended product systems to create very high ecological advantages. Such high advantages can not be achieved by only ecological optimisations. PVC pipe systems are good examples for economically advantageous products and we show quantitatively the ecological advantages possible with them.
• Decreasing life cycle cost is a very important task supporting sustainable development (SD), with huge positive potential for ecological and social development.
• One can support the goal of saving non renewable resources (NRR) and decrease the emission of greenhouse gases better with low cost plastic products based on NRR than with higher cost products made from renewable resources (RR). This is accomplished by investing part of the cost advantage in sensible ecological optimisation.
• Sustainable consumption must not violate ecological restrictions, like the limited availability of NRR connected to greenhouse gas emissions. This can be accomplished by investing a little additional cost in sensible ecological optimisation, neutralising the demand of NRR to produce the consumed products.
Cost advantage can directly be converted into social advantage : A cost advantage of 18% of a PVC pipe system allows the supply with safe drinking water of 18% more people if the money for such investments is limited.