The carbon footprint of plastics piping systems is considerably lower than many of the traditional, non-plastic piping products as can be seen from the above points. To that end, a comprehensive study undertaken on behalf of Plastics Europe (formerly Association of Plastics Manufacturers, illustrates that the responsible substitution of plastic piping systems for more traditional non-plastics piping products in Western Europe alone could save the energy equivalent of 22.4 million tons of crude oil and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 97 million tons. (7) In a life cycle analysis conducted by Franklin Associates on drainage alternatives, the global warming potential for corrugated HDPE pipe was found to be 59% lower that that of reinforced concrete pipe. (8)

As we continue to work toward our goals of sustainability and circularity, we recognize that our industry has historically relied on fossil fuel energy sources for the production, transportation and installation of plastics piping systems. Today, environmentally responsible initiatives are underway all along the value chain to further lessen the already very attractive carbon footprint associated with the use of plastic pipe. Resin manufacturers are initiating the use of alternate feedstocks for production of plastic resins. These sources include renewables such as bio-based feedstocks or recovered waste oils or potentially algae and/or seaweed-based feedstocks. Additionally, efforts are underway at both the resin and pipe manufacturing facilities to utilize renewable energy sources such as wind or solar to power production processes. These initiatives will only further enhance the carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions associated with the use of plastic piping systems.

Our industry continues to work actively on reducing the carbon footprint associated with the production and installation of plastics piping systems. At the same time, it should be noted that the chemical and corrosion resistance of plastics piping systems are being utilized for transmission and distribution of hydrogen as an alternative to carbon based energy sources such as natural gas, methane or propane. In this way, plastic piping systems are at work to lower society’s carbon footprint on a much broader basis by facilitating the conversion to hydrogen where feasible.