As we bury electricity network cables underground, we are dismantling significant quantities of transformers, iron, conductors, cables, mixed waste, impregnated timber poles, glass, porcelain, concrete and copper from our network of overhead lines.
The majority of the dismantled material is sent for recycling in the form of material or energy. For example, it is currently possible to recycle and reuse more than 97% of transformers and cables. Dismantled wooden poles are recycled by burning them for energy.
Dismantled poles from the electricity network are only for professional use
There are strict regulations on processing, reusing and disposing of poles. CCA and creosote, which were previously commonly used to treat timber, contain hazardous substances. It has been prohibited to use CCA on new poles since 2006. Poles impregnated with these substances must not come into contact with people, animals or food, and they must not find their way to consumers under any circumstances.
Since 2007, we have only used C-poles impregnated with copper compounds. Copper compounds are widely used to impregnate timber for a number of purposes, including consumer applications. We only hand over dismantled poles to parties who are permitted by law to reuse them on permissible sites. The authorities monitor the reuse of poles.
Environmental and safety requirements guide material selections
Material efficiency is a factor throughout the life cycle of the electricity network, from design and construction to dismantling and recycling.
We require information on a wide range of issues, including:
- the composition of materials and the chemicals they contain;
- user safety and recyclability; and
- the origin, if possible.