Recycling old cabling?

khatfield at khatfield at
Wed Aug 18 06:38:12 UTC 2010

It's pretty standard for any company to terminate upon taking something without permission.

I worked with a company that threw away / recycled nearly an entire 100k sq. foot datacenter. All of the gear still in working order. It's just one those things...

Your employer tells you to throw it away... It's best to throw it away and not try to take it home :)

We (employees) could request specific pieces but the majority was thrown out. Kind of crazy to see entire Cisco lab environments trashed but it's not uncommon and trash or not, still stealing.

As far as the original question:
More companies recycle and properly dispose of equipment than they did ten years ago. Yet, if they aren't being looked at to be "green" or something along those lines then many choose the cheapest route (the dumpster). 

Per the note by Jeff, it's not recommended to try to take it into your own hands. Your best bet would be to approach your employer with a recommendation that you feel may be more cost-effective or environmentally friendly.
-----Original Message-----
From: Jeffrey Lyon <jeffrey.lyon at>
Date: Wed, 18 Aug 2010 10:35:30 
To: <nanog at>
Subject: Re: Recycling old cabling?

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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