5 Questions to Ask About Sustainability in Pumps
Steve Babcock, VP of Engineering, Jul 6, 2021
There’s a heightened awareness of sustainability and making environmentally friendly choices. The same goes for sustainability in pumps and the industries that use them. Companies that choose to reduce the environmental footprint of their commercial pumps can boast a competitive advantage.
That’s because about one in three U.S. consumers prioritize companies that are actively reducing their impact on the environment. But some companies and pump operators believe sustainable pumps are too costly or don’t have enough power to get the job done properly. With the right pump designed with the application in mind, environmentally friendly pumps can actually save money in the long run while also delivering performance.
Ask the following five questions when choosing the most sustainable pump for your application.
1. Does the Pump Apply Proper Coverage?
Products used for cleaning, fertigation, lawn care, pest control, and other applications are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and for good reason. Many of the chemicals used in these applications are corrosive and can pose a threat to waterways and wildlife when they’re not used according to the manufacturer’s specifications. Unfortunately, many operators struggle to find a pump that produces the perfect combination of flow and pressure to dispense the proper amount of chemicals.
Responsible use of chemicals requires precise application. More power is not always better, and too much or too little PSI or GPM could result in wasted product or inconsistent coverage. This isn’t just bad for the environment, it’s also bad for your bottom line. It’s best to consult with a pump engineer to determine how much PSI and GPM you need to get the job done right.
2. How Long Will the Pump Last?
Materials that comprise pump housings and components might include aluminum, stainless steel, PVC, ceramic, and other durable materials that can take hundreds of years to break down. One of the best ways to improve sustainability in pumps is to ensure they don’t end up in landfills.
Some operators who use inferior pumps can experience frequent breakdowns and failure, requiring replacements. There are some industries where the pumps are so unreliable that they’re replaced multiple times throughout a season. Diaphragm pumps used for spraying chemicals, such as pumps for soft wash and disinfection industries are just a couple examples.
Ensuring chemical compatibility and using a pump designed specifically for its intended application is one of the best ways to minimize the need for repairs or replacements. To achieve this, consider plunger pumps with an anodized coating or those made out of PVC, which resist corrosion and can last for years and save time and money in the long run.
3. Is the Pump Made in the USA?
The shorter the distance your pump needs to travel from the manufacturer to your door, the better it is for the environment. Many commodity pumps are made overseas and shipped on cargo vessels, adding pollution to the air and oceans through the use of fossil fuels and resulting greenhouse gas emissions.
Another consideration is the amount of protective packaging required to transport pumps from overseas. There is a lot of jostling and rough handling that can occur during transport, so excessive amounts of plastic, styrofoam inserts, boxes, and clamshell containers are typically necessary to protect products.
Pumps made in the USA still require shipping, but with much less distance and impact on the environment.
4. Does the Pump Run on Electric or Gas Power?
Another source of potential exhaust emissions is the pump itself. Gas-powered engines, in particular, rely on fossil fuels for operation and can emit significant amounts of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, and fine particulate matter.
For many common commercial pump applications, such as dust suppression, commercial cleaning, misting, and pest control, an energy efficient 12V electric or rechargeable battery-powered unit is ideal and has minimal impact on the environment. These high-impact commercial applications typically have low flow requirements and don’t need more than 1,200 PSI. In fact, using a gas-powered pump for these uses may be excessive.
5. How Loud is the Pump?
While some may not consider noise pollution on par with other forms of pollutants, it does have an impact on the environment, humans, and wildlife. Some studies have shown that noise pollution causes stress in some organisms and wildlife, even leading to smaller broods in some songbird species. Noise pollutants may also impact the survival rates of animals that use sound for navigation, breeding, or to avoid predators.
Lower decibel levels are conducive to battery-powered pumps, whereas a gas-powered pump with an internal combustion engine could range between 85–105 decibels. According to the CDC and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), prolonged exposure to decibels exceeding 85 requires hearing protection.
Since consumers are increasingly scrutinizing the environmental practices of the brands and companies they use, promoting and practicing sustainability not only helps the earth, it can also help boost profits. To learn more about recommended flow rates and pressure for various industries, view our Guide to Proper GPM and PSI below. Then, speak with a pump expert at Pumptec to help you determine the best pump for your application.