Environmental Studies

It goes without saying that we know what impact our products have on the environment. We commission independent studies and regularly participate in studies. Moreover, we carefully analyze the results of these studies and monitor the effects which our products or comparable products have on the environment.

Life Cycle Assessments for specific GF Piping Systems industrial systems

In cooperation with the independent Belgian institute VITO, GF Piping Systems calculated the life cycle assessments (LCA) for four selected GF Piping Systems specific industry systems and compared them to a competing system with the same application.

The life cycle assessments of GF Piping Systems and VITO cover the environmental impact over the whole life cycle – from cradle to grave. The environmental impacts of the plastic systems are based on calculations with GF PS specific data. Subsequent the following materials and applications were compared:

Plastic Competing material Application
PPStainless steelChemical conveyance
PVC-UStainless steelDosing of chemicals
PEGlass reinforced plastic (GRP)Cooling water intake for a power plant
PBCopperWater distribution on a cruise ship

Compared to competing systems, the Georg Fischer systems show a smaller environmental impact. The studies confirm the results of other studies and make clear the importance of plastics in building piping systems that are ecologically sound.

The following graphs show the results in the impact category “global warming” (without considering the use phase):

Life Cycle Assessment for PP compared to Stainless steel
Life Cycle Assessment for PVC-U compared to Stainless steel
Life Cycle Assessment for PE compared to Glass reinforced plastic
Life Cycle Assessment for PB compared to Copper

Ecological performance of plastic piping systems

On behalf of Teppfa (The European Plastic Pipes and Fittings Association), VITO (Flemish Institute for Technological Research) conducted twelve life-cycle assessments on various plastic piping systems in the utilities and building services sector and in each case an alternative material was evaluated as well. The results were presented in so-called environmental product declarations (EPDs). In addition, the results were subjected to the critical review of the company denkstatt.

Due to the particular selection of materials and systems, the following four studies are of particular interest as their results can be transferred to our products:

  • Pressurized water distribution: PE piping system
  • Pressurized water distribution: PVC-U piping system
  • Hot/cold water: PEX piping system
  • Hot/cold water: multilayer (polymer/Al/polymer) piping system




A summary of the key points is available for download. Additional information as well as environmental product declarations, third-party reports and the critical review of the life-cycle assessments conducted by Vito can be found on the Teppfa website: http://www.teppfa.eu/epdoverview

Ecological performance of pipes

Good life cycle assessment of plastic pipesGood life cycle assessment of plastic pipes

GF Piping Systems had a life-cycle assessment drawn up for pipes used in building services, industry and utilities. These assessments compare the environmental impact of a one-meter pipe made of the plastics used by GF Piping Systems with one of alternative materials (for DN 25, 80, 150 and 400). The study was conducted by independent Swiss life-cycle specialists and is based on the leading international life-cycle database, “ecoinvent”.

The positive conclusion – confirmed in other tests as well – is that plastic pipes in the applications and dimensions supplied by GF Piping Systems perform better than the alternative materials. For example, the CO2 footprint, i.e. the accumulated greenhouse gas emissions in the production, transport and disposal of a one-meter PE pipe in dimension DN80, is nearly five times lower than for an equivalent pipe made of stainless steel. Decisive factors for the life-cycle assessment of pipes are the type and amount of the material used. Many plastics as well as copper and stainless steel have a similar energy requirement per kilogram of material. Low-alloy steel and cast iron – with an average percentage of recycled materials – have a much lower requirement per kilogram. However, in regard to a meter of pipe, the results are quite different. Due to the much lower weight, plastic pipes perform better compared to metal pipes, especially in the small and medium dimensions.

Impact of plastics on energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in Europe

PlasticsEurope quantified the impact on energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by substituting plastic products with other materials in a study.

The results:
Commodities made of plastic yield considerable savings in energy and greenhouse gas emissions. Replacing plastic commodities with other materials leads in most cases to an increase in energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

If as many plastic products as possible were substituted with alternative materials, 50% more energy than is required today would be consumed over the entire life cycle of all plastic products. In other words, the plastic products on the market today have saved energy totaling 2400 million GJ a year. This amounts to 50 million tons of crude oil, distributed over 200 very large supertankers.

Pilz, H., Brandt, B., Fehringer, R. (2010): The impact of plastics on energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in Europe. Denkstatt GmbH commissioned by PlasticsEurope, Brussels, Belgium.