Project nominated for the Excellence in LCA Steelie Award 2021

In North America, corrugated steel pipe is the most widely used product in rural water drainage applications. However, in municipal storm sewer applications, concrete enjoys close to a 100% market share.

The municipal storm sewer market is significant in size, but it is conservatively estimated that only 100,000 tonnes of steel are used per year in Canada. There is no technical rationale for using concrete over steel in this application.

The products are functionally equivalent by providing water drainage over a minimum service life of 75 years. However, the environmental benefit of choosing steel over concrete in this application is dramatic.

With a significant influx of government infrastructure spending expected over the next decade, and in particular for storm water systems with the advent of climate change-induced severe weather, it is essential that the consequences of procurement decisions be made apparent.

ArcelorMittal has carried out a comparative LCA study for water drainage systems to show the environmental benefits between corrugated steel pipe and concrete pipe.

The Carbon Footprint Calculator has been developed for effective communication on the environmental performance of steel and concrete pipes. In terms of the impact of global warming potential (GWP), the concrete pipe is over 4 times higher on average than the steel pipe.

It is conservatively estimated that the annual steel industry benefit related to converting the entire North American municipal storm sewer market to steel from concrete is 1.1 million tonnes of the value-added hot-dipped galvanised steel business.

The environmental benefit associated with this would also reduce carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 7.4 million tonnes.