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When sustainability counts, PVC is the right choice

PVC piping is one of the world’s most sustainable products, making it ideal for long-term term use in underground infrastructure. It requires less energy and fewer resources to manufacture than old-technology materials, and its production creates virtually no waste.


PVC, as a raw material, is energy efficient to process. More than half of the raw material used in production of resin is provided by salt, of which there is virtually unlimited supply. Similarly, PVC pipe is efficient to manufacture and transport, using less non-renewable resources than competing materials. However, a complete evaluation of benefit recognises the entire life cycle of the product, from manufacture to disposal.

Moreover, it is produced with sustainable and abundant resources: chlorine, which is derived from salt, and domestically produced natural gas, which helps reduce consumption of imported oil.

Clean and Safe Manufacturing

PVC pipe manufacturing is extremely efficient, with virtually 100 percent of the PVC compound being used. It takes four times less energy to make than concrete pipe, and half that used for iron pipe.

Given the durable nature of the material, the long life afforded by PVC pipe essentially eliminates the question of disposal. Nevertheless, PVC is recyclable, with existing markets for recycled material, and new ones continually developing.

PVC pipe’s ecological credentials have been demonstrated by numerous life-cycle assessments, which scientifically assess the impact of a product, from raw material extraction to end-of-life.

At least 60 reputable life cycle assessments have been carried out on PVC since 1985. The weight of evidence from these studies and the recent changes to the PVC Credit in Green Star confirms that PVC's environmental credentials are sound when compared to alternative materials.

A Smaller Human Footprint

PVC pipe’s ultra-smooth surface reduces pumping costs and its leak-free joints eliminate water loss – which can be up to 40 percent in some old-technology and corrosion-prone piping networks.

But PVC pipe’s greatest environmental attribute is perhaps its exceptional durability and corrosion resistance – leading to better water conservation and lower replacement, maintenance and repair costs. A study by the American Water Works Association Research Foundation recently put the life expectancy of PVC pipe at more than 110 years. Its light weight and ease of installation reduce transportation and installation costs, yielding further benefits to the environment.