Prysmian end-of-life statement

The final phase of a product life cycle is called End Of Life (EOL): in this stage a product is no more able to fulfill the task/function for which it has been designed and therefore is going to be disposed.

Prysmian’s commitment in terms of end-of-life responsibility is clearly demonstrated by its breakthrough P-Laser technology, which the Company has been pioneering and developing since early 2000s. Indeed, this technology — which uses fully thermoplastic materials as power cable insulation — offers the most attractive advantages in the end-of-life phase of the product lifecycle, as it is possible to recycle 100% of the materials composing the cable, including its plastic layers.

In addition, this technology ensures an efficient manufacturing process, characterised by lower power consumption and energy savings. The absence of any degassing treatments avoids emissions in the atmosphere, with a lower environmental impact for the whole process. Moreover, the production of MV power cables requires a compact manufacturing site, with lower soil occupation. However, the most valuable feature of this technology is full recyclability of polymeric materials, with benefits in terms of carbon footprint.

 

Unlike cables with XLPE insulation — the insulation materials most widely used in today’s cable industry —, this technology offers the possibility of fully recycling the cable’s materials.

Today, the use of the P-Laser technology is well-established for MV cables, with more than 65,000 km of cables installed in Italy and The Netherlands. In addition, this technology has been validated for application in HVAC cables and is qualified for the highest insulation levels of HVDC systems, up to 600 kV. Indeed, this technology was selected for the biggest HVDC land project ever (German Corridors), for which about half of the cable length is being produced in the P-Laser version.

In addition, development works are underway to extend the P-Laser technology also to LV cables, so as to apply the thermoplastic insulation technology to the entire power cable range

 

 

At the end of 2022, Prysmian’s product portfolio included for 87.8% materials characterized by potential end-of-life recyclability. The remainder consisted of materials that cannot be reintroduced in the production cycle and are ultimately meant for disposal (landfill or incinerator).

DESIGN TO COST

Another practical example of Prysmian’s commitment to the end-of-life responsibility is the Design To Cost programme.

It consists of a holistic approach based on a lower TCO (total cost of ownership) of materials and a comprehensive process that takes into account design, standards/specifications, materials, ingredients, cable processes/routing, compounding, and external competitors benchmarking. This activity, together with the ongoing rationalisation of product families, represents a methodology to lower production costs, both when developing a new product and when reengineering an existing one, using the best materials, adopting efficient processes and implementing innovative projects. Moreover, the design optimisation leads to a reduction in the volumes to be transported and distributed, thus allowing to cut the environmental impact and significantly reduce the effects even on the logistic side.

This activity provides a relevant impact on the end of life of cable products, due to the significant reduction in the amounts of materials to be disposed of (wasted or possibly recycled) and the related activities/energy consumption associated to the cable disposal.

2023 was a record year for the DESIGN TO COST (DTC) programme, not only driven by the strong impetus generated by the significant growth in the Group’s revenues. The final result was €56.3 million. The DTC program helped mitigate variable cost inefficiencies (mainly attributable to raw material shortages and their price volatility) and improve the competitiveness of our products in several segments.

SUBSTANCES OF VERY HIGH CONCERN (SVHC)

In the context of an increasingly stringent legislation on the use of some particularly hazardous substances – so-called Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) — and on substances subject to the ROHS Directive, Prysmian has defined and implemented actions focused on minimizing or phasing out said substances, with the aim to avoid both their processing in the supply chain and their presence in the final waste stream, when products are disposed of, making them more recyclable at their EOL phase, with overall positive implications for both the environment and product safety.

In this perspective, Prysmian is completing the implementation of an automatic system for tracking the possible presence of said substances in its final products, while also phasing them out in an increasing number of products, including substances whose use, though being SVHC, is not yet banned.

Methodology of Simplified LCA (Carbon Footprint & Potential Recyclability)

Simplified LCA results of all cables can be calculated in Common Analisi – the design tool with construction information of all cables. These results are related to cradle to gate carbon footprint assessment and potential recyclability of the product’s materials at the end of life. To do that, this is the procedure followed:

1. Selection of relevant inventory data:

  • Airborne emissions of cables raw materials (per kg of material);
  • Airborne emissions of Prysmian plants electricity consumption (per kWh);

2. Assessment of said inventory data into CO2 equivalent values, in term of CO2eq emission factor per kg (for the material) and per kWh (for the electricity country mixes);

3. Flag the raw materials as potential recyclable or not recyclable;

4. Uploading of said relevant inventory data into Common Analisi tool, after having implemented in it a functionality to calculate the CO2eq per km of cable, that automatically multiplies;

  • the amount of cables materials by its CO2 eq emission factors (emissions related to all the materials used for the cable production);
  • the amount of kWh consumed for that cable by the electricity CO2eq emission factor (electrical energy related to all the production phases of the cable manufacturing process);

5. When queried a given cable, CA includes – in its construction report – the CO2 of said cable, split into Raw Materials contribution and Routing (Prysmian process) contribution;

6. Final calculation of cables materials potential recyclability.