Environmental effects of drainage systems

The material that underground pipes are made from is of course important to their environmental impact, but even more important is the pipes' performance over the 50+ years they are underground. Leaks can pollute groundwater and stormwater outlets with devastating effects on people and wildlife surrounding and downstream of outfalls. The importance of environmental performance can only increase with bigger pollution fines being levied on offending companies and Water Authorities. 

Understanding the full environmental effects of a drainage system needs a lifecyle analysis taking into account all the major factors: raw materials extraction and production, manufacture, transportation and installation, lifetime performance and disposal or re-processing at end of life. 

Besides having the lowest total cost of installation and maintenance, plastic pipes have comparable underground performance to that of rigid pipes. They have the lowest weight and so offer low transportation and lifting costs, and their inner surfaces are generally smoother which leads to fewer blockages and lower pumping costs over the whole pipe lifetime. 

Research for TEPPFA (The European Plastic Pipes and Fittings Association) carried out by independent bodies to relevant ISO and EN standards has shown plastic pipes to have generally lower environmental footprints than other materials. The results have been repeated in different countries around the world, and analysis has looked at the performance in real installations under different soil conditions. 

Read more on this subject in our article “Reducing the environmental effects of drainage systems”, or download the white paper.