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Content archived on 2024-05-29

Long fibre recycling

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Recycling of optical fibre cables

The increasing use of optical fibre cables (OFCs) necessitates novel methods for their disposal. To this end, a European initiative studied new possibilities for the recycling of long fibres including OFCs.

Climate Change and Environment icon Climate Change and Environment

Pollution and global warming have become important topics over the past years, urging policymakers and companies to look for new recycling techniques to 'save the world'. Regarding the recycling of OFCs, current methods are hampered by their complex composition (they contain optical fibreglass, polyethylene, gels, aramid fibres and, in some cases of the older cables, aluminium or steel). To improve the recycling of OFCs, the EU-funded ‘Long fibre recycling’ (L-FIRE) project proposed to break down the components of the OFC, rather than cut it. With this approach, partners planned to recycle the different materials using a reverse processing technology. Project scientists also worked towards a gel liberation technique for eliminating gels using specialised gel binders or chemical solvents. In order to ease the stripping process, methods for aramid removal and separation of metal-polymer sandwiched materials were also investigated. The L-FIRE deliverables contributed towards overcoming the ineffectiveness of OFC shredding and dumping, as well as the costs of incineration, opening up encouraging prospects for OFC recycling. Implementation of this method does not only have positive long-term environmental effects, but at the same time could strengthen the position of many companies in Europe.

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