Sustainability wins in Australian first for recycling transmission lines

20 February 2023

In an Australian first, Transgrid has rolled out innovative new technology to cut emissions and deliver millions in savings by streamlining the recycling of old transmission lines.

Transgrid has partnered with German manufacturing firm ZECK to deploy their ZECK Al/Steel Separator (ZAS) to recycle conductors in western Sydney.

Executive General Manager for Delivery Craig Stallan said, “As a business Transgrid is committed to embedding sustainability in all our activities and this project is just one of the ways we are working to identify and reduce our own environmental impact.”

Conductors are fed into the ZAS machine under tension and the outer aluminium layer is removed and cut into 30-70mm pieces which are collected into large bags ready to be smelted into new products. The undamaged steel core is wound onto a cable drum at the other end, ready for recycling.

Field Coordinator Mitch Coppock, based in Newcastle, pitched the idea to Transgrid to use the system.

“Something like that hasn’t been done in Australia before and being part of this initiative is exciting.  

“Anything innovative we can do is very important in our industry especially anything that can have good long-term effects on the environment and the environmental impacts this save are huge.

Previously, used conductors had to be shipped overseas to have their outer aluminium layer removed to enable the entire line to be recycled but the ZAS system allows it to be done onsite.

By using the technology Transgrid can cut up to 90% of emissions involved in recycling conductors.

“Everyone wins out of this solution. For Transgrid we can get a much higher return on the conductor as compared to current processes, the environment wins with reduced emissions and local businesses benefit too as they get readily available and processed aluminium.

“By taking out that overseas shipping we also guarantee the quality of labour that is used to process it, making it a more transparent and ethical process,” he said.

By eliminating the cost of offshore processing, Transgrid can achieve a return of three times on scrap metal rates of up to three dollars a kilogram.

Over the next three to five years, it’s forecast to deliver upwards of two to three million dollars in extra revenue from recycling.

“The trial has been successful so far. In under 2 weeks, we’ve run about 40kilometres of conductors through the machine, yielding about a kilogram of aluminium per metre of conductor.

“For it to start with a simple, idea and to receive the support from the business to make it happen and see it come to fruition it’s really rewarding.

“It just goes to show that Transgrid is always open to innovation and new ideas that will benefit how we operate,” he said.


Media enquiries: Jonathon Hall / 0428 413 708