Application Group Overview

Sustainability and Environment - TEPPFA

In order for a product or material to be truly described as sustainable it must be environmentally, economically and socially sustainable. These aspects have become known as the Three Pillars of Sustainability. Plastics make a positive contribution to all three pillars of sustainability.

Plastics make an immense contribution to the environmental sustainability through their energy saving potential and intrinsic recyclability and energy recovery options. Economically plastics form an important part of the UK economy and are a major export product. Socially the plastics industry is a major and inclusive employer with an attention to training and education.

Plastics have a very good environmental profile. Only 4% of the world’s oil production is used for plastics and much less energy is used to produce it compared to other materials. Plastics are durable yet lightweight and thus save weight in pipework.

When plastics have completed their use phase they can either be recycled or if this is not economic or environmentally beneficial the calorific value of the plastic can be recovered through energy from waste incineration to provide a valuable source of home-grown power. As a consequence plastics can be viewed as ‘borrowing’ the oil.

Plastics have a huge role to play in sustainable construction including plastic water pipes.

  • If all buildings in Europe were to the optimal standards it would save 460 million tonnes of CO₂ per year.
  • Studies by TEPPFA have shown that on average, the use of plastic reduces the environmental footprint of pipe systems by about two thirds compared to alternative materials. Furthermore, the replacement of Victorian pipes in London, with new plastic pipes reduces leaks and saves significant amounts of water with consequent savings in the energy required to process and pump the water.