The member companies of NCPI were the first manufacturers of infrastructure products to be certified under a third party audited system.

The Vitrified Clay Pipe manufacturers of NCPI achieved GOLD certification under the SMaRT (Sustainable Material Rating Technology) system.

Cedar Rapids 003

THE Longest-Lasting Material Available: Environmentally Responsible and Cost Effective

Sustainability doesn’t hinge on one characteristic or a small part of the product’s overall life cycle as some seem to think.  Claims of “sustainable manufacturing” only consider a limited window of the product’s total environmental impact.  Claims relating to “recyclability” of products that are never recycled are distractions from a clear-eyed evaluation of a product’s environmental impact.

When the full impact of “cradle to grave” effects on the planet are considered, no other sewer pipe material can meet the environmental standard set by vitrified clay pipe.

Cradle - The Raw Materials

Clay pipe products are made from various types of shale and clay, which are the natural decomposition product of stone.  It is an abundant, naturally occurring group of materials found all over the country, allowing the VCP manufacturers in the U.S. to locally source their raw materials. All we add to those raw materials is a little water.

Manufacture of the Product

Compression and heat are added to the raw materials to convert them into a chemically inert ceramic.  There is zero waste generated in the manufacture of clay pipe and total Embodied Energy has been shown to be roughly half that of the manufacture of other materials.

Service Life

Of course, lifecycle and durability are a critically important component of the actual environmental, economic and social impact of any product.  This has always been one of the strongest arguments for specifying clay pipe.  Only clay pipe has a demonstrated performance history of more than four millennia on which it can be judged.

The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers assumes a one-hundred-year service life for VCP while the Canadian National Research Council/Institute for Construction Research estimates a service life for VCP at 132 years.  We believe these estimates are very conservative.  Seattle Public Utilities has returned to VCP based in part on a projected service life of the existing clay pipe in that system at between 300 and 400 years.

Grave - End of Life Issues

Vitrified Clay Pipe is as close to permanent as any material can be for gravity sewer applications.  Due to the long life cycle for VCP, the fact that it is chemically inert and it does not change over time, there are no long-term disposal or decay concerns.

In the end, it’s not easy being Sustainable.  Vitrified Clay Pipe is, and always has been, the most environmentally friendly and sustainable product available. We welcome your questions on our environmental credentials.

Contact us at or 262-742-2904.

Learn more about our SMaRT Certification

The environmental claims of VCP are supported by a third party, ISO-140001 compliant audit of cradle to grave impacts.  For full transparency of all environmental claims, see the complete SMaRT Scorecard.