Circular Economy

The post-pandemic period was particularly challenging for supply chains, bringing frequent disruptions in addition to those caused by climate change. Consumption of raw materials essential to electrification is expected to jump in the next five years. For example, an estimated 39 million metric tons of copper will be consumed in 2030, up from 29 million in 2020. Meanwhile, global annual production is not likely to exceed 24 million metric tons.

Nexans Lens, France, unloading copper bales for recycling

The double materiality assessment performed by Nexans has shown that mining operations for copper production have significant environmental impacts on ecosystems, including soil, air and water pollution, water use, and biodiversity loss. The two main suppliers of copper cathodes for Nexans’ facilities in Lens (France) and Montreal (Canada) have also validated this materiality assessment of the copper value chain, during interviews. By substituting primary resources with secondary resources, such as recycled copper, we can reduce our dependency on natural resources, shrink our environmental impact, and decarbonize our cable systems, leveraging Nexans’ end-to-end vertical expertise.

Helping to build a circular economy is one of the main ambitions of the Group’s sustainability policy. It encompasses strategies to preserve resources, extend product life spans or reuse products, and reduce waste. Our policy applies to all Nexans entities around the world.

Because circularity is increasingly central to the Group’s strategy, in January 2023, Nexans created a circular economy technology platform, working with an ecosystem of global industrial, academic and advisory stakeholders:
Des Institutions Académiques dont l’Université Claude Bernard Lyon-1 (CP2M, IMP et ISA) et l’Université Jean Monnet (IMP St Etienne) pour le développement de briques techniques autour du recyclage des déchets polymères ; L’ENSAM et l’Institut Laplace pour l’étude de l’allongement de la durée de vie des câbles

  • universities and research labs, such as Université Claude Bernard Lyon-1 (CP2M, IMP and ISA) and Université Jean Monnet (IMP St Etienne), to develop technical building blocks for the recycling of polymer waste, and ENSAM and Institut Laplace, to increase the life span of cables
  • industrial players, such as Suez, Arkema, Elkem, Hutchinson, Michelin and Trelleborg Industrie (via the PYROCA and RENOV collaborative projects funded by ADEME), to develop recycling technologies for complex polymer waste
  • suppliers of non-ferrous metals and polymers, for the testing and certification of low-carbon circular resources
  • industrial companies, to assess new circular economy technologies
  • strategic customers, to develop the circularity of products and services and explore opportunities for reuse

Customized recycling solutions

We not only manufacture cables, we also recycle them responsibly. Choosing Nexans’ recycling services means getting a financial return from end-of-life cables as well as helping to protect the environment.

Recycling with Nexans also offers these advantages:

  • Innovative technology for copper and aluminum cable grinding
  • Turnkey logistics solutions
  • Full transparency and traceability of all operations
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Longer product life spans

The Group’s products (our cables and accessories) have long life spans, mostly ranging from 20 years to over 40 years, because they are used in long-term infrastructure, such as electrical networks, buildings, and wind and solar farms. In addition, the design and installation of electrical products are governed by many industry standards designed to protect human safety and prevent fire risks. These combined requirements reduce the risk of product obsolescence for the Group.

Nexans continuously strives to extend our products’ useful lives and thereby further improve their quality, safety and reliability and minimize their environmental impact. For example, the Group has developed and performed a wide range of tests to measure and estimate the lifetime of materials depending on cable applications and requirements. These tests include thermal and electrical aging, UV, ozone and fluid resistance.

The R&D department has participated in several academic and research programs in recent years to gain a better understanding of cable aging and improve how Nexans estimates the remaining life of cables, especially those used in medium-voltage networks.

Copper casting in Nexans Lens

Cable recycling with RecyCâbles

In Europe, the Nexans Group recycles part of our production waste through RecyCâbles, the European leader in cable recycling and recovery, which was created as a joint venture by Suez and Nexans in 2008. All types of cable – power or telecom, from demolition or discards, copper or aluminum, simple or complex – are processed at the RecyCâbles facility in Noyelles-Godault, in the north of France, and the recovered materials reused to produce new electrical cables.

In 2022, the Nexans Group recycled 14,830 metric tons of cable waste using latest-generation industrial equipment with minimal environmental impact, especially in terms of water and electricity consumption.

In other countries, the Group has invested in stripping machines, grinding equipment and separation tables, so that facilities can recycle not only their own production waste, but also the remnants, obsolete inventory and customer waste that they collect.

This industrial recycling process enables the Group to recover copper and aluminum scrap, as well as plastic scrap, such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyethylene (PE) and cross-linked polyethylene (XLPE), for reuse and recycling.


metric tons of cable processed by RecyCâbles each year, enabling the recovery of 18,000 metric tons of metal granules and 13,000 metric tons of plastic

99,9 %

pure copper granules are produced through a combination of cutting-edge recycling technologies


metric tons of cable waste were recycled by Nexans in 2022

Responsibly produced copper certified by the Copper Mark

In 2023, the Group became one of the first cable manufacturers to receive the Copper Mark, attesting to the copper industry’s contribution to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The rigorous Copper Mark assessment process investigates each copper production site to independently verify the application of responsible practices.

Nexans’ metallurgical facilities in Montreal (Canada) and Lens (France) have both been awarded the Copper Mark. They were assessed against a set of 32 internationally accepted sustainability criteria, in line with environmental, social and governance standards. The Group is one of the first cable and wire rod manufacturers and one of the first copper rolling mill operators in North America and Europe to earn this certification. We will shortly be launching the Copper Mark assessment process for our two other mills, in Peru and Chile.

This Copper Mark recognition highlights Nexans’ global leadership in sustainable electrification. As a member of the UN Global Compact since 2008, the Group upholds ten fundamental principles in the areas of human rights, labor practices, environmental protection and anti-corruption. We have also incorporated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into our corporate social responsibility priorities. And in 2023, Nexans pledged to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, in alignment with the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi).

Copper recycling

Nexans is working to increase the amount of recycled copper used in our cables to reduce natural resource consumption and shrink their environmental impact. By vertically integrating scrap metal into copper processing, we can incorporate a significant share of recycled copper into our upstream production. The Group aims to include 30% of recycled content in copper bars produced at the Lens facility by 2030.

In 2022, approximately 19,700 metric tons of copper scrap were reused in Nexans’ casting facilities in Canada, France and Peru, covering about 4% of the Group’s needs.

In other countries, the Group has also undertaken to send metal waste to suppliers for recycling. These suppliers then incorporate the recycled metal into new bars sold to Nexans.

Thanks to this copper recycling capacity, we can reduce our carbon footprint while preserving natural copper resources. However, availability of copper scrap is a crucial prerequisite to increasing the recycling rate. We are working with the Group’s customers to expand the collection of copper scrap.

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Reintegration of recycled materials

Recovery of aluminum scrap

The other main nonferrous metal used in cable manufacturing is aluminum. The Group obtains aluminum scrap from its cable manufacturing and recycling processes and sells it to aluminum suppliers. Nexans then repurchases aluminum with recycled content.

At the end of 2022, along with its German partner Trimet, an aluminum production and recycling company, the Group launched Europe’s first aluminum rod containing 10% of recycled aluminum. The process used to recycle aluminum cable scrap uses only a fraction of the energy needed to produce primary aluminum. Nexans used this innovative recycled aluminum rod, supplied by Trimet, to manufacture new power cables.

Around 85,000 metric tons of aluminum were used in new cable production in 2022

Recycling of polymers

Several initiatives are also under way to better recover plastic waste, such as PVC, PE, XLPE and filled polymers. The aim is to move from a linear model to a circular one, where used materials are reintroduced into cable production. In December 2022, Nexans obtained a large grant from ADEME, the French Environment and Energy Management Agency, to explore the recyclabilty of polymer waste with other industrial and academic partners. Significant research was undertaken in 2023 to explore the recycling of XLPE and elastomer waste.

Recycled polymers are also used in packaging, such as Mobiway cable drums made of 100% recycled polypropylene and the various films used to wrap cable spools. The Group is a member of the Circular Plastic Alliance and is participating in a pilot project in Belgium that collects plastic film from customers for recycling and reuse in new plastic film.

aluminum rod

Using low-carbon aluminum

Nexans has joined the new Aluminium Forward 2030 coalition of 25 members of the International Aluminium Institute and 20 companies working to transform the aluminum sector. Its goal is to achieve carbon neutrality across the industry. Nexans strives to incorporate low-carbon aluminum into our product manufacturing whenever possible. In addition, through our recycling solutions, the Group recovers all types of end-of-life aluminum and copper cable, creating a positive impact for the environment. Our customers and partners can also take advantage of our cable waste recovery service.

The coalition aims to preserve and reinforce aluminum’s value to society in all its applications. Members also have the opportunity to be part of a learning community that is changing the future of supply chains.


Recycling our packaging

The Group has introduced measures to reduce the environmental impact of packaging, cardboard and plastic, especially cable drums. Each drum is equipped with a GPS tracker, 3D accelerometer and embedded intelligence, to better monitor project progress and optimize the collection of empty reels. For our customers, the technology means less loss and theft of the packaging and better management of drum rental and cable storage costs. It improves drum logistics and speeds up the return of empty reels on consignment.

By the end of 2022, Nexans’ connected, recycled drums were in use in 26 countries and the number of connected drums was up 17% from 2021, increasing the coverage rate from 12% to 14%.

Ecodesign and data transparency

Ecodesign is the design of products and services in a way that minimizes their environmental impact throughout their life cycle. Nexans applies ecodesign principles in two ways:

  • using a qualitative approach, considering every stage of our products’ life cycle
  • using a global, quantitative approach based on life cycle assessments performed in compliance with ISO 14040 and ISO 14044
  • Life cycle assessments quantify the impacts of design choices at every life cycle stage (from the extraction of the necessary raw materials to manufacturing, distribution, installation and usage, through to end-of-life management). The Group has more than 15 years of experience in conducting life cycle assessments. This analysis helps Nexans identify areas where products can be improved to reduce their environmental impact, for example, by substituting primary resources with secondary resources.

The Group communicates the results of our products’ life cycle assessments using the Product Environmental Profile (PEP) method developed by the PEPecopassport® program, of which Nexans France is a founding member. It meets ISO 14025 criteria on Type III environmental declarations, which report on a product’s environmental performance.

The Product Environmental Profile aligns with the following standards:

  • a recognized methodology based on the ISO 14040 series, which describes the principles, framework, requirements and guidelines for life cycle assessment best practices
  • product category rules developed jointly with other electrical and electronic equipment manufacturers, in line with ISO 14025
  • an internationally recognized methodology (CML) for assessing life cycle impacts, using indicators recommended by French standards EN 50693 and EN 15804, which include 15 mandatory environmental indicators (global warming, water scarcity, water pollution, air pollution, etc.) as well as 17 mandatory indicators for monitoring energy consumption, water consumption and waste

Each PEP is checked by an independent verifier holding PEPecopassport® accreditation.

At the end of 2022, Nexans had recorded 220 PEPs covering more than 4,500 product references used in different markets around the world, including France, Belgium, Italy, Canada, Sweden and Chile. In France, these environmental declarations are mainly used to meet building certification requirements, such as for the E+/C- label for positive-energy, low-carbon constructions.

Training in these areas – life cycle assessments, the Product Environmental Profile and ecodesign – was completed by 34 employees in 2023 (56 in 2022).


PEPs covering more than 4,500 product references, end of 2022


employees were trained in areas: life cycle assessments, the Product Environmental Profile and ecodesign, in 2023


countries were using Nexans’ connected, recycled drums, end of 2022