Life Cycle Analyses (LCAs) represent a strategic project in the domain of Aliaxis’ environmental care. As a growing number of administrations and clients would like to be fully aware of the sustainable characteristics of the products they are purchasing and because we want to analyse how we can further improve our products, we created an LCA package to enable our businesses to benefit from all the LCAs we perform. We intend to provide decision-makers and architects with information packs on all our products, allowing them to make choices for a sustainable future.
These analyses confirm that plastic pipe systems are more environmentally-friendly and better alternatives to pipes made from other materials. In Europe we were involved in comparative LCAs studies under our European trade association (TEPPFA) and the results clearly presented a better environmental performance looking at plastics pipes & fittings solutions compared to traditional materials (copper, concrete) regardless the application (water adduction, soil & waste…). These results were then validated by Denkstatt, a well-established third-party body. In addition, environmental and technical performance of our products is a successful combination to improve the global environment: it has been proven that PVC has fundamental advantages in terms of creating sustainable water and sewage infrastructure piping. It is recyclable and reusable, durable and long-lasting, and also resistant to corrosion. Therefore, it is already the material of choice for many municipalities for their piping infrastructures.
We also aim to increase our environmental efforts in the manufacture of our products. Therefore, based on the LCA results, our environmental strategy was designed in the course of 2016. This strategy is based on several pillars, such as energy usage and the re-use of recycled materials, each designed to improve our sustainability performance.
A first pillar is to reduce carbon (CO2) emissions from our production by maximising energy efficiency. We focus on using less electricity, as it represents up to 90% of our energy mix. We are also making important progress: compared to 2016, in 2017 we reduced our CO2 emission per kg of pipes & fittings produced by 2.8%. We started this trend, meaning reducing our CO2 footprint, already in 2015, thanks to a series of measures that were taken throughout the world. In the meantime, all the local businesses have identified their own hotspots and integrated them in tailor-made energy plans. Other topics like water usage or waste sorting are also high on the agenda.
Another key objective is optimising the use of resources. Within this field we not only look at the sustainability performance of the raw materials we use, but also at increasing our use of recycled materials. In Canada, the Enviro-Tite and Ecolo Tube IPEX brands incorporate 50% of recycled PVC in their manufacturing process while increasing product performance. They are already known as the most environmentally-friendly sewer pipes available. In the UK, the Quantum range also delivers a strong environmental performance as it contains 70% recycled material derived from waste such as plastic bottles.
Aliaxis is running pilot projects in Europe and Australia, in collaboration with specialised companies and clients, to collect waste materials, recycle them and re-use those recycled materials again in production in order to obtain a closed loop recycling scheme. By doing so, we anticipate the growing expectations of customers and of society regarding the environmental characteristics of our product offering.
Next to recycling plastics a considerable effort also goes into water (re-)usage and waste sorting. Vinidex, for example, implemented a very interesting project when they upgraded their water plant at the O’Connor factory in 2016. After 105 days of operation, they had already saved the equivalent of an Olympic-size swimming pool in terms of water, while energy consumption was reduced by 25%.
The Aliaxis environmental strategy is currently being rolled out throughout the whole group. Enthusiasts from each division are regularly interfacing with local businesses, bringing together all local efforts for defining the environmental footprint.