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How sustainable are plastics for movement?

Plastic is a much-discussed material. We know that high-performance polymers can make a contribution to the protection of resources and to the environment, and have made this the focus of our corporate activities.
 
We look at plastics in three phases: during their production, in use and at the end of the product's life. On this page, we show you our answers to the question of sustainability, both in terms of our products and in everyday life at igus. Not everything has been answered yet, and for some things, especially with regard to sustainable production, we are still working on answers and solutions.

Still to be solved:

  • Emissions of gases and chemicals from the production of raw materials 
  • Abrasion during use 
  • Dependence on the fossil raw material oil

Goals:

  • By 2025, we want our buildings and production to be CO2-neutral.


Logo igus CO2 Footprint

Update on the path to climate neutrality

In 2021, we achieved 31.2% less CO2 emissions than in 2020. This figure relates to Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions. The switch to green electricity in mid-2021 and to climate-neutral gas in October 2021 will play a key role here. 

What is scope? Go to the article in the igus blog

The three phases of plastic

Before ...

Production of plastics and parts

Diagram energy balance steel, aluminium, plastic

Energy balance

The production of 1 m³ of plastic requires around 50% less energy than that of 1 m³ of steel or aluminium.

Graph oil consumption of plastics

Oil consumption

The production of high-performance plastics accounts for just 0.5% of global oil consumption.

RheinEnergie green electricity seal

Power consumption

All of the electricity we purchase is green, and we are reducing the amount of power our machinery and equipment consume. We are acquiring injection moulding machines that are 40% more energy efficient and replacing old ones. We reduced power consumption by 11% in 2021 even as we increased production hours. 

Icon cycle

99% recycled

99% of our rejects in injection-moulding production (sprues, defective parts) are recycled and returned to the manufacturing process.

Icon magnifying glass

clean igus programme

Mechanical measures such as magnetic foils and guide plates prevent parts from falling out of the machines in the production process and becoming waste. We reduced our waste ratio (production waste + processed material) by 21% in 2021 thanks to these and other measures. 

Environmental and climate certification

ISO 14001 lettering on the ground in front of green background

ISO 14001 environmental management standard

In order to make our environmental policy transparent and comprehensible, we have been certified according to ISO standard 14001 since 2019, an internationally recognised basis for environmental management systems. This helps us on our way towards a CO2-neutral factory.

ISO 50001 lettering in front of igus factory with footprint

Energy management standard ISO 50001:2018

Our energy management system is certified according to international standards. The main goal of the ISO 50001 standard is to help companies improve their energy-related performance by setting up systems and processes. 


In use ...

Plastics in use

Lubrication-free

27 million tonnes of grease pollute the worldwide environment every year. Our polymers do not require lubrication.

Oil can and globe

50% of all lubricants sold worldwide end up in the environment. (Source: M. P. Schneider, 2006)

Oil bottle and drinking water bottles

1 litre of oil contaminates 1,000,000 litres of drinking water. (Source: Saskatchewan Association for Resource Recovery Corp., 2008)

Car silhouette

1/3 of the total fuel consumption of a passenger car is used to overcome friction in the engine, gearbox, tyres and brakes. (Source: K. Holmberg, P. Andersson, A. Erdemir, 2012)

Map of the world with oil barrels

Global demand for lubricants will increase by 2 % annually, according to forecasts = 45.4 million tonnes in 2019. (Source: The Freedonia Group, 2015)

Sustainability - durable products

Service life

Our polymers are optimised for wear. They do not corrode and do not get dirty from grease and dirt. They last longer and don't have to be replaced often. Thanks to our numerous tests in the test laboratory, we can calculate their service life exactly.

More sustainable - less weight

Lightweight

Plastic is lighter than steel and saves weight and therefore energy, which has to be applied for the movement. In an aeroplane, this amounts to roughly 4kg if iglidur plain bearings are used instead of metal-rolled bearings. This again positively impacts kerosene consumption.

Sustainability - less friction

Energy saving

Our polymers are tribologically optimised and have low friction. Together with the lower weight, this ensures that less drive energy has to be used to move a machine part in an application.

Sustainability - smart plastics

Predictive maintenance

Components are not replaced until they have reached the end of their product life cycle - this is the idea behind our smart plastics product range. Sensors indicate wear and parts are replaced when really necessary; resources are used carefully and rationally.

Sustainability - bearing exchange

Replaceable parts

Not having to replace the entire application when wear occurs was one of the leading ideas when we developed our exchange bearings for linear guides. The rail is not damaged and the bearing housing can be reused. This conserves resources - and simultaneously results in lower costs.

Sustainability - iglidur N54

Biopolymers

With iglidur N54, we have developed a standard plain bearing that can be used universally and consists to 54% of renewable raw materials. The biopolymer bearing demonstrates that components can be sustainable, and motivates us in our future product development.


After ...

Plastics after their use

Graph conventional recycling

chainge Recycling Programme

We launched our "chainge" energy chain recycling program in 2019. You can send us used energy chains (from igus or other manufacturers). You receive a voucher, and we separate components by type and use them ourselves or supply them to recycling partners. As of 12/2021, we have already received 25.97 tons of material.   

Graph Hydro Plastic Recycling Solution

HydroPRS recycling

We have invested five million euros in Mura Technologie, a company that uses a new technology, HydroPRS (Hydro Plastic Recycling Solution), to convert unsorted plastic waste to crude oil within 20 minutes. Conserves resources with pressure, temperature, and water. Construction of the first large-scale plant started in April 2021, and more and more companies are cooperating with Mura Technology. 


Resource conservation projects and initiatives

Forest clearing with meadow

Tree planting

It started as a Christmas gift for customers and now there are several campaigns, not only in Germany, but also in Turkey, Mexico and India. From saplings to large urban trees, we plant and care for trees and bushes in small and large campaigns. By creating large areas with new trees, we hope to help mitigate CO2 load in the atmosphere. 

Stripped laptop

Second life for PC & Co.

What does igus do with electrical appliances after their service life has run out? Until recently, it went straight to disposal, and in large quantities: up to 5 tons of electronic waste were generated annually. That is now a thing of the past. The working group reguse, an association of igus trainees, rescues from electronic waste what can still be used, e.g. laptops, PCs and monitors. It reprocesses the old devices, offers them to igus employees for little money or donates them, for e. g., to schools and associations. Proceeds go towards sustainable projects.

The igus bike

Recycling meets mobility - the igus:bike project

A bike that does not rust. No maintenance, no lubrication. Together with strong partners, we are building the urban bike of tomorrow: robust, durable and made of more than 90% plastic - from the frame to the bearings and the toothed belt. A high proportion of the required raw materials can be covered by recycling plastic waste. Want to find out more? 

3D printed parts and a steering wheel of a classic car

3D printing replacement parts for everyone

Produce replacement parts made of wear-resistant iglidur tribopolymers yourself - this possibility is now also available to private individuals. In the context of the project "3D printing replacement parts for everyone", we support repair cafés, open workshops and FabLabs with filament donations. They can obtain up to two rolls of filament per enquiry completely free of charge. More information about the project, which we are initially offering in German-speaking countries, is available on our information page.


Resource-saving measures around the world


Sustainable innovations 2022



The terms "igus", "Apiro", "CFRIP", "chainflex", "conprotect", "CTD", "drygear", "drylin", "dryspin", "dry-tech", "easy chain", "e-chain", "e-chain systems", "e-loop", "e-ketten", "e-kettensysteme", "e-spool", "e-skin", "flizz", "ibow", "igear", "iglidur", "igubal", "kineKIT", "manus", "motion plastics", "pikchain", "plastics for longer life", "print2mold", "readycable", "readychain", "ReBeL", "robolink", "speedigus", "tribofilament", "triflex", "xirodur" and "xiros" are legally protected trademarks of the igus® GmbH/Cologne in the Federal Republic of Germany, and, where applicable, in some foreign countries.
igus® GmbH points out that it does not sell any products of the companies Allen Bradley, B&R, Baumüller, Beckhoff, Lahr, Control Techniques, Danaher Motion, ELAU, FAGOR, FANUC, Festo, Heidenhain, Jetter, Lenze, LinMot, LTi DRiVES, Mitsubishi, NUM, Parker, Bosh Rexroth, SEW, Siemens, Stöber and all other drive manufacturers mentioned on this website. The products offered by igus® are those of igus® GmbH.