Life Cycle Environmental Impact of Underground Plastic Recharge Chambers in Stormwater Management

Life cycle assessment is used to systematically evaluate the environmental impact of underground plastic recharge chambers (RCs) used for stormwater management. Using cradle-to-gate life cycle assessment and a functional unit of 1 m3 stormwater capacity, different RC structure types, manufacturing processes and materials are considered. The inventory is based on various commercially available RCs, including injection-molded or extruded polypropylene and polyvinylchloride polymers and typical installation materials and methods. A new dataset is developed to estimate the manufacture and use of recycled polypropylene granulate. TRACI 2.1 is used to investigate the midpoint life cycle impact assessment metrics, acidification, eutrophication, global warming, and fossil fuel resources. Results indicate that plastic represents as much as 99% of the total cradle-to-gate impact, driven largely by the polymer processing method. Injection molding has on average a 50% higher impact per kg of material than extrusion. Processing and transport of backfill material to the project site is approximately 20% of the total cradle-to-gate impact. The transport distance is highly significant: long transport distances can cause the transportation impact to exceed the plastic impact.

» Author: Lisa A. Peterson

» Reference: doi: 10.3390/buildings12060867

» Publication Date: 20/06/2022

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This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement Nº 768737


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