Posts

BLOG: The Important Distinction Between “Reuse” and “Recycle”

“Reuse and refurbishment represent the greatest value recovery opportunity from used devices”

The terms reuse and recycle are often used synonymously, however it’s important to understand the difference between them. Recycling involves breaking down a product into raw materials, and then using the raw materials to create new goods. Reuse is to re-purpose an existing asset for a new use, and that’s exactly what our solutions do. We can transform your existing CAT3 or COAX cabling into an IP path with power to support various IP endpoints.

Recycling’s Environmental Impact

Ever since it’s explosion in the 1980’s, skeptics and advocates have debated whether or not recycling has a net positive impact on the environment. Surface level recycling benefits are obvious. Reduce the amount of waste that is burned or buried in a landfill, and conserve the Earth’s limited natural resources, which involves a very destructive process to extract. However, it’s important to understand that recycling does come at an environmental cost.

Unlike reusing existing wires which has a 100% benefit to the environment, trucks must transport recyclable products – requiring energy and creating pollution. Once at the recycling plant more energy is used, and pollutants created to transform the product back into raw materials. We must also consider what kind of products are being made with the recycled materials. Closed-loop recycling is most efficient. This is, for example, when a plastic bottle is recycled into another plastic bottle – and so the process can continue indefinitely. However, the closed-loop is often broken when items are recycled into less desirable products that can’t be recycled. For example, when a plastic bottle is recycled into plastic fibers for clothing.

Recycling Effectiveness

The effectiveness of a reuse strategy is always 100% environmentally friendly, however this is unfortunately not true for recycling. The effectiveness of recycling depends largely on location as each country, state, and municipality have unique regulations, programs, and facilities. The gap can be staggering. According to Eurostat, in 2016 Sweden recycled almost 50% of all their waste, while Romania only recycled about 13%. The raw material itself is also an important variable to consider. Aluminum is one of the most effective, requiring approximately 90% less energy when made from recycled materials. However, recycled glass only results in about 20% energy savings.

The Electronic Products Recycling Association (EPRA) is a not-for-profit organization that provides industry-led and regulated recycling programs for unwanted electronics. According to the EPRA, recycled cables and wires are harvested for their metal, which means non-metal components are considered waste.

Not All Waste is Recycled

As mentioned previously, not all waste is recycled. Many organizations modernizing to IP believe they need to install the newest cabling infrastructure to support their endpoints. Let’s assume a company is planning to rip-and-replace their current telephony infrastructure and operates out of a 40,000 square foot facility with 200 employees. Approximately 22,000 feet of cabling could potentially end up in a landfill. On the other end of the spectrum, a larger facility – such as a cruise ship – could have as much as 750,000 feet of telephony cable. That’s over 11 tons of waste! Many IoT endpoints do not have high bandwidth requirements, meaning upgrading to newer Ethernet cabling is both a waste of budget and an unnecessary burden to the environment.

There’s A Better Way

In EPRA’s 2017 Environmental Report, the organization states “reuse and refurbishment represent the greatest value recovery opportunity from used devices.” Businesses too often rip-and-replace their reliable and proven existing infrastructure in their pursuit of the Internet of Things. Do yourself and the environment a favour, let us help you transform your cabling infrastructure to support IP endpoints.

Watch our short customer success videos

Follow us on Social Media