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The Milan-based consultancy Althesys has conducted a Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) analysis comparing unplasticised PVC (PVC-U) to other non-plastic materials for water and sewer pipelines lines. The analysis considered the costs to purchase pipes, install, operate and maintain and dismantle the pipeline. PVC-U pipes show significant economic advantages over ductile iron and glass fibre polyester (GRP) in water lines and concrete or clay in the sewer lines.
Pipes are key elements in the development of water and sewer networks. Due to fierce competition between pipe materials, price/performance ratios are under pressure to reach increasingly optimised levels. Up-to-date cost calculations are critical to help the owners of water and sewer networks to make informed decisions on material selection.
A first study by Althesys, including TCO calculations, was commissioned by the European Council of Vinyl Manufacturers (ECVM) in 2010. It demonstrated the significant cost savings that network owners could make over the entire lifespan of water/sewer networks by choosing unplasticised PVC (PVC-U) pipes instead of the main functional alternatives. The cost advantages of using PVC-U pipes was illustrated using two European countries whose water infrastructures are developed to very different levels: Italy and Germany.
The European water industry has been investing in its networks for many years, but the need for expansion and renovation is still very prevalent. An update to the study was completed by Althesys in 2018, taking into account new developments in regulatory policies, technologies and market trends. The new study shows significant economic advantages for PVC-U over ductile iron and GRP in water lines and concrete or clay in the sewer lines. Main savings are realised on the installation costs.