Plastic pipe possesses a high strength-to-weight ratio making it uniquely positioned to offer significant energy savings in the transport of pipe to a job-site as compared to other non-plastic piping options. For example, a nominal 8-inch polyethylene (PE) pressure pipe used for water main installations weighs 8 pounds/foot as compared to 8-inch ductile iron pipe that weighs roughly 21 pounds/foot. Assuming a truckload capacity of 40,000 pounds that would equate to 5000 linear feet of PE pipe. A truckload of ductile iron pipe limited to the same 40,000 pounds would equate to 1900 feet of pipe. Obviously, this increases the number of truckloads and, hence, the energy required to transport pipe to a specific job-site.

The case for transport of plastic corrugated drainage pipe is equally compelling. A standard 20-foot length of 48-inch PE storm water pipe weighs roughly 600 pounds. An equivalent 20 foot section of 48-inch of reinforced concrete pipe weighs over 22,500 pounds. The maximum load for a 3-axle, 40 foot trailer is typically 80,000 pounds. A shipment of 48-inch reinforced concrete pipe would yield 64 linear feet delivered to the job-site.

A truckload of corrugated PE drainage pipe, on the other hand, is not limited by its weight. It is limited by its volume. For this reason, a truckload of 48-inch corrugated PE drainage pipe would yield twice as much footage (120 feet) to the job-site at a truckload net weight of roughly 3600 pounds. Additionally, shipments of corrugated PE pipe can be optimized by “telescoping” or “nesting” smaller diameter pipe inside larger diameter pipe to maximize the footage shipped to the job-site while still requiring far less fuel than shipment of concrete pipe without breaching the recognized weight limitations of 80,000 pounds. (5)