Plastic from recycled cables gets a new lease of life
Cable plastic is a challenge for recyclers. It is seen as especially difficult to recycle crosslinked polyethylene, PEX, which is used in power cables. However, this is now possible and cable drums are produced using recycled PEX.
Cables have been recycled for decades due to the high value of the metals but, for the plastics, the recycling rate is low. Usually, it ends up with the combustible waste. When recycling cables, a lot of plastic waste is generated. Also about five per cent of the plastic becomes waste in cable production.
Method for cable recycling
Plastic in cables is of high quality and has a long lifetime, making it suitable for recycling. Methods have been developed to separate and upgrade different plastics to new raw materials that can be used for new products.
One such method has been developed for the recovery of cross-linked polyethylene (PEX). The method has been tested and developed in collaboration with Axjo Plastic and NKT. Waste PEX from the cable industry is sorted, ground, mixed with polypropylene (PP) and moulded into cable drums at Axjo Plastic.
Today, recycled PEX from cables is used in large cable drums. The intention is to use only recycled plastics for the drums, PEX and PP. Compared with equivalent new raw material, the cost is around half and, in addition, about two kilos of carbon dioxide are saved per kilo of recycled plastics. Jacob Nilsson at Axjo welcomes the collaboration.
Return system for reuse and recycling
A return system on cable drums has been introduced and used drums are returned to Axjo. They are reused several times and, when damaged, the material can be recycled into new cable drums.