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Are PP TPE cables more recyclable than XLPE?

One of the main biases on the market, is that PP TPE cables are fully recyclable, whereas XLPE cables are typically not recyclable. Borealis commissioned the independent research institute RISE to perform an equal evaluation on the recyclability properties of the cables.
© Borealis: For the cable recyclability practices currently in use, a cable with XLPE insulation and HDPE jacket has the best fit for recyclability.

The first of a kind study offers suggestions on how to re-use the cable’s materials, calculations of the climate impact and CO2 savings, as well as estimations of economic savings from both cables.

The Borealis commissioned RISE study will provide new, valuable information to Market Operators. These can help support and enrich the relevant European debates, or specific commercial tenders issued by European Distributor Service Operators.

These are some of the study’s main findings and conclusions:
For the cable recyclability practices currently in use, a cable with XLPE insulation and HDPE jacket has the best fit for recyclability. It proves its best to have the same type of polymer in the insulation and jacket. Thus, cable plastics can be recycled together.

The economic saving when replacing virgin plastic with recycled cable plastic is estimated to be between EUR 0.6 and EUR 1.3 per kilo, depending on the final application and recycling methods used.

According to the international standard IEC 621251 the summary LCA2 indicator for XLPE is 59%3 (avg.) and for PP TPE is 100% (avg.). This shows how, overall, XLPE is a more sustainable solution.

Borealis, through RISE, found that both today and even more so in the future, XLPE is excellent for recyclability and circularity. The huge amount of XLPE in high, medium and low-voltage cables already installed worldwide constitutes a significant source of valuable material for recycling after end-of-life. The new XLPE recyclability technologies under development, beyond mechanical recycling, will further boost the possibilities and the value of this material for future recyclability streams.

Download the full study here and for any questions about it, please get in touch with Katinka today.

Katinka Brodahl, Application Marketing Manager - Energy MV/HV
Email: katinka.brodahl@borealisgroup.com
Phone:+49151 5494 3499

  1. International standard: Environmental considerations specific to insulated electrical power and control cables
  2. Source: Third party LCA by Denkstatt 2021
  3. The lower the percentage, the better the Sustainability performance (the lower the environmental impact)
© Borealis: For the cable recyclability practices currently in use, a cable with XLPE insulation and HDPE jacket has the best fit for recyclability.

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