Recycling old cabling?

Frank A. Coluccio frank at
Wed Aug 18 05:08:49 UTC 2010

   All of the larger telcos and power utilities have been 're-smelting'
   copper for decades. Verizon (nee NY Telephone) had a copper smelting
   plant on Staten Island at one time that recycled all of the used
   cross-connect wire and cables removed from underground and poles. Telco
   main distribution frame personnel were, and very likely still are,
   instructed to use "copper-scrap" bags for depositing small bits and
   pieces of copper wiring collected at cleanup time at the end of work
   shifts. Many years ago, copper, for this reason, was one of the three
   "C"'s that no one would mess with. Copper and Cash were two.I'll leave
   the third one to the reader's imagination.
   This subject is interesting because it's one of the cost-justifiers in
   business models that seek to re-engineer large office buildings and
   other copper-intensive venues where the objective is to replace all
   copper wiring with hybrid fiber-wireless alternatives. While
   reclamation through salvage is only a by-product of this movement, it
   is nonetheless one that is cash intensive, so it cannot be overlooked.
   Not only is the copper data cabling removed (Cat3/5e/6, in this case),
   but also potentially tons of power cables and racks supporting
   sometimes hundreds of riser telecom/LAN closets, where there are
   usually anywhere from two to four closets per floor, depending on the
   size of the floor plate, in a forty- or sixty-story building, say.
   Every copper penny helps these days.
   --- streiner at wrote:
   From: "Justin M. Streiner" <streiner at>
   To: nanog at
   Subject: Recycling old cabling?
   Date: Tue, 17 Aug 2010 07:29:50 -0400 (EDT)
   Just out of curiosity, is anyone here recycling old cabling and plant
   infrastructure for their raw materials, or engaging a recycler to
   those materials?  Where I work, there is almost always a renovation
   project going on.  This provides opportunities to rip out
   Cat3/Cat5/long-abandoned thicknet/thinnet/FDDI-grade fiber/etc, which
   normally do.  Most of the time that old cabling ends up in the
   but I'm wondering if anyone is recycling it, either by their choice, or
   the result of company policy or relevant laws in your area?
   Cat3/Cat5 can be broken down to raw materials with some effort, but I
   haven't seen many recyclers with an economically viable process for
   it.  Coax is a bit tougher, but not impossible (same questions about
   economic viability still apply).  Fiber can be tough, expecially if
   dealing with something like 20+ year old gel-buffered cable where the
   long-since dried out.
   I'd be interested to hear other peoples' experiences along these lines.

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