WOPAS delivers eco-friendly utility poles and related products made from natural wood and recycled plastic. The entire pole is recyclable, contributing to the circular economy.
Utility poles must be constructed to withstand harsh weather conditions, rot and damage from woodpeckers and borers. For the past 150 years, the industry has preserved the wood with creosote, a carcinogenic chemical mixture. Creosote can endanger human health through exposure and harm the environment by leaching into the soil and water. Once treated, the poles cannot be recycled and must be incinerated according to stringent environmental requirements.
WOPAS delivers utility poles made from natural wood and polyethylene plastic (PE), two-thirds of which is recycled. The eco-friendly solution avoids toxic biocides, relying instead on construction techniques to prevent wood damage and decay.
The poles are coated in a protective layer of plastic of 5–10 mm (subject to dimension) through a patented extrusion technique. Ends are capped and the encapsulation keep outs oxygen and moisture, providing constructive wood protection. Moreover, the PE used meets the standard for drinking water-grade pipes, so the utility poles are safe for the environment, the workers who handle them and those who live near them.
WOPAS uses this same technique to produce similar products, such as marine piles, light poles and fence posts for cattle. The company manages the entire supply chain in-house at its factory in Norway.
WOPAS utility poles and other products are designed to be recycled, which promotes the circular economy. They are made of 85 per cent renewable FSC certified raw wood material, 10 per cent recycled PE and 5 per cent juvenile PE.
Both the natural wood and the PE can be recycled through mechanical separation. The wood can be repurposed as building material, such as oriented strand board. Moreover, the poles have a long lifetime, lasting up to 80 years.
In a Swedish life cycle analysis of pole materials, WOPAS received “best in test” in six of seven environmental impact categories.
The global utility pole market is expected to reach USD 52 billion by 2024. The electricity industry is seeking alternatives to conventional poles made with toxic materials. The EU has banned creosote, with a temporary exemption for utility poles. Other authorities have banned this chemical as well.
Launched in 2017, WOPAS utility poles have been approved for use by Vattenfall, the largest grid owner in Scandinavia. WOPAS is now targeting opportunities beyond Scandinavia, either through physical exports or licensing of local production.
3. Good health and well-being
WOPAS utility poles are made from non-toxic materials, and do not contain hazardous chemicals that cause air, water and soil pollution.
9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure
WOPAS utility poles can help to make electricity infrastructure more sustainable.
12. Responsible consumption and production
WOPAS utility poles have a long life cycle and are designed to be recycled.