Climate change requires an important role for plastic applications -provided that attention is paid to the factors people and innovation

An important application to keep our feet dry in times of climate change is hidden under the ground. Plastic pipe, invisible though it may sometimes be, will play an important role in severe storms, and also in times of drought, according to The European Plastic Pipes and Fittings Association (TEPPFA).

The activities of TEPPFA follow the sustainable development goals of the United Nations. One of those goals is to combat the consequences of climate change. “Our sector offers great products for this”, says General Manager Ludo Debever, of TEPPFA.

Van extreem nat, tot langdurige droogte

Global warming does not just mean an increase in temperature. There will be more and more severe storms that are going to cause massive flooding. At the same time, major periods of drought are predicted due to climate change. These seemingly paradoxical consequences do find a common solution in underground (plastic) applications.

This involves the whole process of collecting large quantities of water and storing it. If done properly, excess water can be stored to make up for shortages in times of prolonged drought. When draining extreme amounts of water during a superstorm, plastic pipes with a diameter of up to 3.5 metres can be used. Add to that infiltration crates, and the water can also be stored under large non-permeable paved surfaces such as parking lots and airports. “This way, we keep our feet dry on the one hand, but we can also ensure that the water is returned to nature in a controlled manner”, states Debever.

Unknown means unloved?

Although there is increasing attention for climate change, it sometimes seems that practical solutions for its consequences are forgotten. Innovations, such as plastic mega-pipes with a large diameter, or systems with infiltration crates, are still far from being used everywhere.

“The factors of people and innovation play a big role here”, Debever believes. Innovations that return as much water as possible to nature will become increasingly important. Irrigation systems, such as those that have been used for some time in southern Europe, are an important part of this. “But people do need to pay attention to this”, Debever believes. “As far as I am concerned, we see that there is still a lot of unfamiliarity with the applications in this area. And with the innovations that are constantly being added in this area.”

Recyclate equivalent to new raw material

Another point that should not be forgotten is that the safe application of plastic pipes based on recyclate is still relatively unknown. In many countries outside the Netherlands, there is still the perception that pipes made from recycled plastic are less robust or safe. Debever thinks that awareness of this will also play a crucial role in the applications that are necessary to deal with the consequences of climate change. “Again, unfamiliarity with the application is an obstacle. Innovation alone is almost never enough”. So make sure that the ‘applicators’ such as sewer workers are also well informed, so that they can choose the right solutions. The Netherlands has had good experience in this field for almost three decades and is keen to share this knowledge. The Dutch tube is provided with KOMO quality mark and therefore meets the standards, regardless of whether or not any recyclate has been used.

Despite all our techniques and innovations, the human element remains very important in these times of great change. Perhaps now, with an overwhelming array of innovations in all sorts of areas, it’s more important than ever to keep the focus on being sustainable with our planet.

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