Protecting the subsea environment

On 02-02-2023
Reading time : 2 minutes

With 400+ submarine cables in service worldwide covering over 1.3 million km, it is high time to think about biodiversity and environmental protection as well as the recovery of these cables, once their lifetime is over. The cable-lifting industry is critical to give submarine cable components a second life.

A second life for old submarine cables

Orange Marine is among the few companies specialized in this field with 3,000 km of lifted cables to its credit. Once a cable is collected, it is dismantled by companies specializing in this business in order to recycle its raw materials. For example, a submarine cable is made up of three main recyclable materials that must be removed: polyethylene, copper and metal. These components, after being melted, are sold and reused in the manufacturing process of new products.

However, in some circumstances, when cables tend to be colonized by corals or incorporated into a seagrass meadow it can be more appropriate from an environmental perspective to leave them beneath the sea as they have created their own ecosystem.

A responsible approach for new submarine cables

Orange tries to avoid sensitive areas, either by bypassing them or by going underneath, with underground boreholes for example. However, when this is not feasible, we act carefully, even though all studies carried out show that fiber optic cables for telecommunications have very low impact due to their small size and the fact that they produce little to no electromagnetic radiation.

As part of its commitments, Orange is increasing its efforts to extend the lifespan of its products by promoting all aspects of the circular and responsible economy

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