Recycling old cabling?

Jeffrey Lyon jeffrey.lyon at
Wed Aug 18 06:05:30 UTC 2010

I know of a guy that was terminated for "stealing" CAT5 that he was
instructed to throw in the dumpster.


On Wed, Aug 18, 2010 at 9:38 AM, Frank A. Coluccio <frank at> wrote:
>   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
>   handle
>   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
>   we
>   normally do.  Most of the time that old cabling ends up in the
>   dumpster,
>   but I'm wondering if anyone is recycling it, either by their choice, or
>   as
>   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
>   doing
>   it.  Coax is a bit tougher, but not impossible (same questions about
>   economic viability still apply).  Fiber can be tough, expecially if
>   you're
>   dealing with something like 20+ year old gel-buffered cable where the
>   has
>   long-since dried out.
>   I'd be interested to hear other peoples' experiences along these lines.
>   jms

Jeffrey Lyon, Leadership Team
jeffrey.lyon at |
Black Lotus Communications of The IRC Company, Inc.

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