D.W. Currence, B. Sauer
Papers # 2018 Las-Vegas
Society’s call for improved stewardship of natural resources and public funds continues to grow. Combined with the challenges facing public infrastructure has resulted in the broadened expectation for sustainable and resilient materials and products to serve in these future public infrastructure needs. Sustainability is most often synonymous with products being renewable and environmentally friendly, or causing low adverse environmental impact. Resiliency implies long lasting and the ability to effectively serve within a wide range of unpredictable or extreme conditions. The Plastics Pipe Institute (PPI) believes HDPE pipe is ideal for meeting sustainable and resiliency demands. To scrutinize and analyze this assertion, PPI commissioned Franklin Associates to evaluate the environmental impacts associated with the cradle-to-grave life cycle of several different material types of pipes used in storm drainage. Included in this life cycle assessment (LCA) is the evaluation of corrugated HDPE manufactured with postconsumer recycled resins.
Research has recently concluded on the performance of corrugated HDPE pipe made with recycled resins.1,2 As a result, North American standard specification bodies have recently expanded existing corrugated HDPE pipe standards (AASHTO M294 and ASTM F2306) to include recycled resins.3,4 These new standards allow use of recycled HDPE drainage pipe within the public right-of-way. This shift toward using recycled content presents an opportunity for design engineers and public utility agencies that are seeking to reduce their overall environmental footprint associated with storm drainage projects.
As this LCA illustrates, corrugated HDPE pipe has favorable environmental impacts when compared with other storm drainage pipe materials. By reducing the use of virgin HDPE and supplementing the blends with post-consumer recycled HDPE there are additional decreases in the overall environmental impacts realized initially and over the life time of the system. HDPE pipe made with virgin or recycle resins are the sustainable, resilient and responsible choices for storm drainage applications.