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:
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.
The production of 1 m³ of plastic requires around 50% less energy than that of 1 m³ of steel or aluminium.
The production of high-performance plastics accounts for just 0.5% of global oil 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.
99% of our rejects in injection-moulding production (sprues, defective parts) are recycled and returned to the manufacturing process.
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.
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.
27 million tonnes of grease pollute the worldwide environment every year. Our polymers do not require lubrication.
50% of all lubricants sold worldwide end up in the environment. (Source: M. P. Schneider, 2006)
1 litre of oil contaminates 1,000,000 litres of drinking water. (Source: Saskatchewan Association for Resource Recovery Corp., 2008)
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)
Global demand for lubricants will increase by 2 % annually, according to forecasts = 45.4 million tonnes in 2019. (Source: The Freedonia Group, 2015)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We launched our "chainge" energy chain recycling programme 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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
29 solar panels have been installed on the roof of the office building of the igus branch in Spain since 2021. The electricity they generate covers one-third of the entire power requirement.
Extruders for bar stock production require cooling to work flawlessly. For this purpose, cold water runs through the machine. It heats up in the process, and until recently, it was discharged into the sewage system. This has changed with the re-cooling system: after passing through the machine, the water is cooled down in a cooling tower, stored and can be used again to cool the machine. We also use such re-cooling systems for our injection-moulding machines.
Our colleagues in Singapore and Malaysia have implemented several measures to reduce energy consumption in offices and assembly departments:
We are working hard not only to measure and make transparent the CO2 footprint of every component we sell, but also to consistently reduce it. As a first step, we show the CO2 footprint of each plain bearing of our best-selling materials in our web shop.
The first energy chain made of 100% recycled energy chain material. Based on the igus chainge recycling program, the new E2.1 (micro) catalogue range was created from 100% recycled material - of course tested in the igus laboratory.
The new, sustainable iglidur ECO materials ECO H, ECO P, ECO A180 and ECO G consist of 100% regranulates of the top materials that have proven themselves for many years. They are tested just like all other materials and are suitable for many applications.
Linear housings made of 100% recycled igus polymer P4 and liners made of iglidur J4 with high recycling material content. The split linear housings also enable fast bearing replacement directly on the round shaft.