Back in 2002 I was doing an environmental masters degree at The Centre of Alternative Technology in Machynlleth, Wales. We had to write a lot of essays but could basically choose our own essay title as long as it was relevant to the module. For the materials unit I decided to carry out a Life Cycle Analysis of copper pipe v plastic pipe, in this case specifically HEP2O (polybutylene)which was becoming more and more ubiquitous on site. I was not a fan of HEP2O; I loved copper and wanted to continue to use it. So what better way than to prove that copper was environmentally superior to HEP??
So I did all the research and the answer was…
But why spoil a good mystery by revealing the answer so soon? I had lost the word version of the essay years ago, but a few weeks ago found a hard copy of it. Finally! So I have scanned it and you can read it here: An LCA of copper pipe v hep2o
As I said at the beginning I did all the research in 2002, so please bear that in mind when reading it. Now, with the advent of urban mining, more number crunching and carbon counting, and investment by the UK copper industry for more recycling plants I am hopeful that my conclusion would be different.