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The new British standard for concrete pipes, BS 5911-1, offers further type testing requirements and cement mix options to improve pipe performance in a world shaped by fatbergs, Net Zero Carbon, and infrastructures durability challenges.

The British Standards Institute (BSI) published a new revision of BS 5911-1:2021, the concrete pipes specification standard, earlier this month. BS 5911 has been revised and updated numerous times since it was first introduced in the early 1980s. However, this revision is different as it comes at a challenging for society and its infrastructure. In this blog we highlight three issues which have shaped changes and additions to the new version of BS 5911: These are Net Zero Carbon, Durability, and resilience. We explore how the standard in its new format can help sewerage infrastructure address these issues.

Net Zero Carbon

We are in a race against time to reduce carbon emissions and limit global warming to no more than 1.5° C. It is a major challenge in which every industry needs to play its part. National Highways (previously known as Highways England), for example, recently launched a “Net Zero Highways” plan in which the agency targets the use of Net Zero construction products and materials by 2040. Such ambitious targets would require significant change in how products such as concrete pipes are specified. The new BS 5911-1:2021 will allow the concrete drainage sector to reduce embodied carbon emissions significantly as the “Cementitious Content” section of the standard has been revised and can now enable the use of a significantly wider variety of low carbon cements, including pozzolanic cements and a range of ternary cements with limestone fines content.


According to Water UK, water companies deal with up to 300,000 sewer blockages annually, costing £100 million every year to clear them. Fatberg and blockage clearance operations usually involve water jetting with high-pressures that might range from 3,000 to 4,000 psi. With the rise of the fatberg problem, it was necessary to introduce a mandatory jetting resistance test into BS 5911-1. Concrete drainage products will need to be tested using a stationary water jet at 28 Mpa (around 4,060 psi) pressure for a period of 3 minutes.


Another key addition to the new BS 5911-1 is the addition of clear text which demonstrates how an exposure class DC-4 concrete mix, the main chemical design exposure class used by all concrete pipe manufacturers in the UK, and surface carbonation offers the necessary concrete durability to meet the requirements for a 100 years “Intended Working Life”.

Specification for a “100 years” life has always been possible as BS 5911-1 concrete pipes are already specified to requirements within Special Digest 1 “Concrete in Aggressive Grounds” and BS 8500. However, an explicit reference to such Intended Working Life should offer further assurance to specifiers and asset managers.

The new BS 5911-1: 2021 is now available at the BSI website. For any further information on the new standard please contact

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