It’s not easy being green

By David A. Chasis

Taking a cue from Kermit the Frog who lamented, “It’s not easy being green,” I will explain how incorporating sustainable plastic pipe manufacturing processes will benefit the bottom line of manufacturers, and serve as a win for our environment.

The plastic piping industry must adhere to many strict product standards and undergo third-party certifications. The industry has completed and published a peer-reviewed Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) and participates in the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) LCI program—Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability (BEES).

Plastic Pipe and Fittings Association (PPFA) is a nearly four-decade old organization comprised of leading plastic piping system resin, machinery, and product manufacturers. PPFA knew that although plastic pipe and fittings manufacturing processes were very clean, by comparison to other piping materials, a complimentary standard to assist pipe and fitting manufacturers to improve their overall sustainability was important. Hence, PPFA led the industry in developing the Sustainable Manufacturing Standard (SMS 01-2012). PPFA used the standard as the basis for their Sustainable Manufacturing Conformity Assessment Program for Plastic Piping Components (SMCAP).

The goal of SMCAP is to achieve measurable results in the following areas on a year-by-year basis:

• Improve water conservation
• Lower packaging materials waste
• Improve material conversion efficiency
• Reduce product material waste
• Increase energy efficiency
• Increase plant safety
• Improve safe product use
• Continued participation in Life Cycle Analysis (LCA)
• Maintain NSF/ANSI 61 certification

What do plastic pipe manufacturers have to do to become certified? They must commit to establishing a detailed and documented baseline of measurements in the areas noted above. After the baselines are set, the manufacturer must implement procedures and practices to achieve continuous improvement on a yearly basis, as monitored by PPFA.

Although members of PPFA are entitled to a reduced fee for participating in the SMCAP, non-PPFA manufacturers are also invited to participate in the program. All certified manufacturers receive approval to use a distinct PPFA leaf logo, which may be used on or in connection with products manufactured under a certified process.
The first manufacturer to receive a PPFA certification was Silver-Line Plastics for processes at its plant in Lawton, Okla. Silver-Line Plastics is a member of PPFA.

Ricky Silver, president and CEO of Silver-Line Plastics, commented, “We are pleased PPFA has established a program that pushes industry facilities to improve the environmental footprint and create efficiencies in our manufacturing process. We are also thrilled to be the first company to have a facility with a certified process under this program and expect to have certified processes in all of our plants by year’s end. It was a thorough procedure that required us to examine many of our own processes, and it led us to make many improvements. We certainly believe it was well worth it.”

If any company is interested in this program and needs additional information on PPFA’s certification program, contact PPFA at its website: www.ppfahome.org and click on “Sustainable Manufacturing Certification.” You can also call PPFA at (630) 858-6540.

Contrary to Kermit’s struggle with being green, it is refreshing to have an industry that has accepted the challenge to improve its “greenness” in order to leave less of a footprint on the environment. PPFA’s new certification program for plastic pipe and fitting manufacturers certainly lays the foundation for this to happen.

David A. Chasis of Chasis Consulting, Inc., has more than 40 years in the plastic fluid handling industry in many different capacities. He has an engineering degree from the Colorado School of Mines, a MBA in finance and marketing from New York University, and several senior Management Courses from the American Management Association. David’s plastic journey has included 13 years in owning and managing plastic piping distribution companies, working 17 years for plastic manufacturing companies in many different capacities and, for the last 11 years, as an independent plastics consultant. David presently is a member of and consults for the Plastic Pipe and Fittings Association (PPFA). David has written many articles and authored and edited several publications, including a book, Plastic Piping Systems. He also edited two workbooks for the PPFA—Thermoplastic Industrial Piping Systems and The Design Guide for PVC Commercial and Industrial Applications.

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