As engineers, we try to specify products and processes that are as environmentally responsible as possible, based on the facts. Now, when it comes to selecting pipe materials, there's some help.
A recent academic study made an environmental impact comparison of the four most common pipe materials in use today—steel/ductile iron (c200, 301, 303 DI), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), fiberglass-reinforced polyester (FRP) and polyethylene (PE). The results showed that, of the four materials, FRP had the least environmental load, and the least effect on greenhouse gases and climate change.
The study looked at factors such as raw material extraction and production, energy and transport, use and maintenance, and disposal. PVC and PE were found to have the greatest environmental impact. Steel/DI had about double the total emissions of the “green” leader, which was FRP, hands down.
I'm currently serving on an ASCE committee to develop a new sustainability MOP. The recent study should be helpful to us in our endeavors. Earth is the only inhabitable planet we've got, so it's up to us to do what we can to keep it that way.
Isn't it great when you discover proof that you've been right all along? For years now, my colleagues and I have been preaching that Flowtite® FRP was the smart choice for your pocketbook. Now, this new study shows it's also the smart choice for the planet.
P.S. Don't just take my word for it. Download the full study here. And for any non-Norwegian speakers out there, it’s also in English.
By the way, if you happen to be going to the NEWEA, California Irrigation Institute, UTC or Pacific Water, we can talk about all this in person. Aloha!