Dismantling and recycling the electricity network and selecting materials

In 2018, 15,900 tonnes of various materials were dismantled from the network and sent for onward processing. Find out more about this.

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.

Pylväsmuuntamo oikealla, puistomuuntamo vasemmalla.
The pole-mounted transformer on the left is being replaced by the park transformer on the right, where the electrical equipment is enclosed and protected, and it is not possible for oil to spill into the soil.

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.