An important Aspect for measuring Product Sustainability: Service Life

13. September 2019 | 2 min read

A long service life is not only beneficial for economic reasons but also in terms of environmental sustainability. TEPPFA and PE100+ released a position paper confirming that solid wall PE pipes in buried pressure applications for water and gas supply are expected to last more than 100 years. 

Solid wall PE pressure pipes have many advantages. They are in short reliable, resistant and easy to install (also trenchless). But also in terms of sustainabiliy they are a winner.

LifeCycle Assessment to quantify and compare environmental impact

The Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a standardized method for assessing the environmental impact of materials and for making a fair comparison between alternative materials. It shows the impact on the environment over a product's entire life-cyle, from raw material extraction, through production, system design, transportation, installation, etc. to end of life handling (e.g. recycling).

Service life (usage) - an aspect of sustainability 

One of the aspects considered in the Life Cylce Assessment is service life. This refers to the length of time a product can actually stay in operation. Since Polyethylene has been developed in the early 1950s we have no pipes at hand that could have actually served for 100 years or more. So how would we know?

  • Research
  • Extrapolation calculations
  • Dig-up reports 

The European Association for Plastic Pipes TEPPFA and PE100+ released a position paper offers a good summary of the design basis of PE pressure systems, standards, norms and real life examples. Lots of the first generation PE pipes have exceeded 50-70 years service life and some are still in service today. The products have been improved every since so that the combination of dig-up reports, research and calculations tell us that today's PE generations most probably have a service life expcectancy of a century and more.

If we include the fact that PE can be recycled several times, this brings us to a material life of a couple of hundred years... but this is worth another story. 

For more information about the environmental impact of our plastics pipe systems, take a look at our Environmental Poduct Declarations resulting from Life Cycle Assessments right.

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