Northern Telecom Ltd., a Toronto-based telecommunications equipment giant, said it may add washing and pelletizing capability at its Barry, Ontario, reclamation center to improve the quality of plastic it reclaims from wire and cable. Leah Jung, a consultant working with Nortel on its ``cable chop'' recycling, said the company recycles about 1,300 miles of wire and cable per year at the Barry center by stripping the PVC and polyethylene insulation from the metal wire, selling the metal and grinding the remaining plastic.
The company has about 2.4 million pounds of finely ground PVC, and 2.7 million pounds of PE per year from the operations it sells to molders and extruders for ``low-end'' applications.
``The cable chop has tiny amounts of metal in it, including copper and aluminum that is not able to be reclaimed right now,'' Jung said in a telephone interview. ``The materials are acceptable for a number of products where a great degree of purity is not needed, such as truck mud flaps, flower pots, traffic stops and reflective bibs for construction workers.''
The company consolidated a reclamation center in Lechine, Quebec, into the Barry facility in March, and now recycles all its wire and cable at the site.
Most of the wire and cable comes from phone and business equipment wiring being replaced by Nortel with more modern fiber optic cables and switching equipment.
The company also recycles materials used in its actual phone, fax, business machine and pager equipment at Barry and Durham, N.C., and uses some recycled material in its new equipment.
Since most businesses already have been rewired with nonmetal fiber cable to accommodate the proliferation of business electronics, much of the wire and cable scrap comes from older underground and aerial wire that is being replaced.
``Actually, it depends on the particular materials we are recycling,'' said Dave Huculak, manager for wire and cable recycling at Barry. ``Some of the reprocessed plastic is very clean and pure. Where we really have a problem [is] with ... metal, like aluminum shielding in the polyethylene.''
According to Huculak, the company would like to have a complete wash, separation and extrusion line in operation at the Barry facility within a year to produce a purer grade of recycled plastic.
``We do well now selling our plastic, but we would like to become suppliers of higher quality materials and to have zero landfill of any of the wire and cable products,'' he said.
The main supply of wire and cable for recycling comes from customers such as Bell Canada, and Barry takes the replaced and obsolete equipment and materials from throughout North America.