Can you protect the environment by choosing the right cable?

by Nils Jager

The other day, a friend’s daughter said to me: “Plastic? But plastic is not good!” Responding to her statement gave me the idea to take up the topic of environmental protection and waste reduction in a blog post. Ordinary citizens are not the only ones who are trying to live more sustainably. We at igus are also thinking about how we can contribute to protecting our planet.

hands holding small tree
Hands holding budding tree

How do chainflex cables contribute to waste reduction?

Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing. – Oscar Wilde

When choosing cables, people often discuss the price, but rarely the overall cost. The latter can be many times as high for a cheap cable as for a high-quality cable that has been developed for many millions of cycles in their cable carriers. Especially in the current environment, in which avoiding waste and protecting the environment is an everyday concern, it is important to look beyond price. What is much more important is how long a component lasts.

Not too long ago, a customer asked me about the CF33.40.04 cable. I was very surprised because this part number had not been requested for at least 12 years. It is an old igus (4G4.0)C PUR motor cable. It was in the chainflex® catalogue until 2001, when it was replaced by the CF35.UL.

The legacy cable worked flawlessly for over twenty years in a machine with constant movement. This example clearly showed me how much a durable cable can contribute to the environment. Durability actively contributes to waste reduction because what doesn’t break doesn’t need to be replaced. Producing new cables requires raw materials such as copper and various plastics such as PVC, PP, and PUR. There is also the energy requirement for the production process. In other words, choosing a durable cable not only reduces waste, but also conserves resources.

To find out which cables will work most effectively and last the longest, igus® offers tools, such as the service life calculator. These tools provide the customer with clear statements about the expected service life of igus® cables.

What else is igus® doing in the area of sustainable plastics?

I’m glad to answer this question as well. People often automatically assume that plastic is bad and harmful to the environment. But I work at igus® with a clear conscience. igus® gives a great deal of thought to sustainability, and many of its projects truly put it into practice. At igus®, we never stop learning and improving.

More insights on sustainability at igus can be found here.

It is important to us to make our environmental policy transparent and comprehensible. That is why we have been certified according to ISO 14001, an international foundation for environmental management­ systems, since 2019. This standard helps us towards our goal of a CO2-neutral company.

ISO 14001
ISO 14001

The igus® chainge recycling programme for energy chains

Plastic isn’t always the same as trash. That is why we recycle worn-out energy chains. We accept all energy chains, even those from other manufacturers. We separate the various types of energy chains and process them to form new granulate. Chainge combines the words “chain” and “change”.

Planting trees at igus

For several years now, igus has been pursuing various tree planting projects around the globe. (See Canada’s tree planting initiative here). Our task is not just to avoid CO2 emissions, but also to capture existing CO2 with more tree cover. We are pleased to help the environment with each of these projects.

tree planting
Tree planting with igus®


Every year, igus produces about five tons of electronic scrap. And many of the scrapped devices are still functional. Couldn’t other uses be found for them? This is the question our IT trainees asked themselves and launched this project (site in German) with commercial trainees. Discarded functional devices are no longer scrapped, but tested for functionality and offered for sale to company employees. Since April 2021, an in-house online shop has offered these refurbished devices at low prices. The proceeds are donated to sustainable projects. Reguse is a combination of reduce, reuse, and recycle and signals the affiliation with igus®.


igus® sustainability has many faces. We are thrilled with each of them. Planting trees and upgrading electronic devices remains just as much our task as providing good advice on our products. These initiatives, along with finding long-lasting solutions for your applications, enable us to together contribute to a better planet.

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