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ISO-compliant, peer-reviewed, industry-wide EPD covers PVC water and wastewater piping and helps municipalities and companies meet their green building and infrastructure goals
The Uni-Bell PVC Pipe Association (PVCPA) has published the first North American industry-wide environmental product declaration (EPD) for water and sewer piping, and it has been verified by NSF Sustainability, a division of global public health organization NSF International.
The EPD was developed in compliance with international environmental management guidelines (ISO 14025) and benchmarks the impacts of seven PVC pipe products across their life cycles. This includes PVC pressure pipe for potable water, reclaimed water and sewer force main systems as well as PVC non-pressure pipe for storm sewer and sanitary sewer systems. NSF Sustainability reviewed and verified the life cycle assessment (on which the EPD is based) and EPD documents to ensure that no unsubstantiated claims were made and that the EPD followed all applicable rules.
Click here to view the full EPD for water and sewer piping.
Baseline for Continuous Improvement
NSF International also maintains certification programs which provide independent confirmation that products meet the requirements of American National Standards designed to assure products are appropriate for these end uses. PVCPA members are certified to NSF/ANSI 14 for physical performance, health effects and quality requirements of pipe products and NSF/ANSI 61 for potable water contact products. Both standards establish strict criteria for products to be considered safe for use. This third-party verified, ISO 14025 compliant EPD was the next step in validating the safety and sustainability of PVC piping products. With the completion of this EPD, PVCPA members have demonstrated their continued commitment to product safety and transparency.
EPDs are increasingly used across many industries by product manufacturers to provide transparent environmental data to customers. This EPD is based on an industry-wide life cycle assessment (LCA) prepared by Sustainable Solutions Corporation that identifies the full life cycle environmental impacts of PVC pipe. PVCPA members can use the LCA and EPD report as a baseline for continuous improvement, identifying opportunities throughout the product life cycle for further environmental impact reductions. This positions PVC pipe manufacturers as leaders in their industry, and provides transparent environmental impact data to builders and municipalities for building and construction standards such as the Envision™ Sustainable Infrastructure certification and other green building and sustainability programs.
Meeting Sustainability Goals
The EPD pinpoints areas of greatest environmental impact as well as the environmental benefits of utilizing PVC piping. For example, the use phase of pressurized potable water pipe, during which pumps overcome friction to move water through pipe, was found to contribute the greatest environmental impacts throughout the product’s entire life cycle. The EPD also identified advantages in this stage such as the smooth interior surface of PVC pipe that minimizes friction and therefore energy consumption. PVC pipe is also corrosion resistant and has a proven durability in excess of 100 years, requiring less frequent replacement.
Environmental impact categories analyzed include global warming potential, ozone depletion, acidification, eutrophication, smog formation and cumulative energy demand. PVC pipe is designed to minimize environmental impacts due to its corrosion resistance, enabling long-term durability.The PVCPA environmental product declaration provides transparent environmental impact data that is essential for builders and municipalities sourcing products in accordance with their green building goals. Having the EPD verified by an independent third-party organization like NSF International lends credibility and trust to the EPD report and is an industry best practice.
It was an extensive process to develop the life cycle assessment and the resulting EPD documents, but well worth the effort. Buyers of PVC piping want to see this data to help meet their sustainability goals and our members were dedicated to making this possible. This industry-wide EPD reflects their resolve to use science to drive manufacturing and product improvements and to be leaders in transparency reporting.
Used by the U.S. EPA
NSF International (nsf.org) has been testing and certifying products for safety, health and the environment since 1944. As an independent public health and safety organization, NSF International’s mission is to protect human health and the environment through standards development, auditing, testing and certification for the food, water, build/construction, retail, consumer products, chemical and health science industries. NSF International led the development of the American National Standards for all materials and products that treat or come in contact with drinking water. In 1990, the U.S. EPA replaced its own drinking water product advisory program with these NSF International standards.
The North American PVC Pipe industry is very serious about the environment. That's why we manufacture one of the most sustainable products on earth. PVC pipe requires less energy and fewer resources to manufacture than old-technology materials, and its production creates virtually no waste. Production of PVC pipe requires one-fourth the energy of concrete pipe and half that of iron pipe. PVC pipe manufacturing is also extremely efficient, with virtually 100 percent of the PVC compound being used.
Moreover, PVC pipe’s ultra-smooth interior surface reduces pumping costs and its leak-free joints eliminate water loss – which can be up to 40 percent in corrosion-prone piping networks. But PVC pipe’s greatest environmental attribute is perhaps its exceptional durability and corrosion resistance – leading to less waste, better water conservation, and lower costs for system maintenance and repair.
Environmental responsibility also includes keeping the world clean from seaborne litter and debris. Marine litter, which is caused by people and organizations who carelessly discard garbage that ends up in the oceans, is a growing concern.
In an effort to promote healthy and clean coastal environments, the PVC Pipe Association has partnered with local residents and businesses on Little Corn Island, Nicaragua, to clean up the shores of this island paradise. Little Corn Island was recently included in the latest edition of the travel classic,"1000 Places to See Before You Die."
The initiative, locally called the Beach Environment Cleanup Organization Initiative (B-ECO-I), will not only clean up this beautiful tropical island – and keep it clean –but will shed light on the growing problem of marine litter and the need to address it through behavioral change, anti-litter laws, and greater awareness of our environmental responsibility.
B-ECO-I emphasizes the role that everyone can play in making the world a cleaner and better place, promoting a greater sense of civic pride, and serving as a model to communities around the world. Alongside its message of proper garbage disposal, B-ECO-I also focuses on the need to reduce, reuse, and recycle. All marine debris collected on the island is either recycled or sent to the mainland on otherwise empty cargo ships (dead heading) to be processed in an environmentally sound manner.