The Environmental Impact of Cable Clutter: Why Cable Organization Matters

By: CableOrganizer®

Cable management may keep wires organized and aesthetically pleasing in appearance, but organizing cables is also an earth-friendly act. How may tangled wires lead to environmental issues? And what are the best cable organization products to promote sustainability? Cable clutter can cause:


Although the exact figure is unknown of how cable clutter may contribute to energy inefficiency, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates data centers consume about 2% of the world’s electricity. When cable management practices are subpar anywhere, it can lead to inefficient cooling and ventilation of equipment. Cooling systems expend more energy to reduce equipment temperatures.


An estimated 53.6 million metric tons of electronic waste was produced worldwide in 2019, according to the United Nations University Global E-waste Monitor. This figure includes an unknown number of cables and wires, which are comprised of metals and materials like polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and can take years to decompose.


Cables that get damaged when cluttered add to the production of raw materials to create new ones. Their components include metals and resources extracted from the earth to produce plastics.


Unnecessary manufacturing takes its toll on the environment. And when cables in disarray are damaged, new ones need to be purchased, increasing the supply and demand.


A tangle of cables may eventually lead to an electrical fire because the likelihood of overheating is increased. Smoke expelled into the air from a fire can have environmental repercussions, contaminating the air, and destroying the local landscape. In 2019, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) cited electrical failures and malfunctions as the second leading cause of home fires. Many experts specifically note an overabundance of extension cords clustered in one outlet can be a cause. Some people use them regularly, though they are designed for temporary use.

How does organizing cables preserve the environment?


It secures resources for the planet’s future populations. Practices like upcycling and recycling reduce overall waste, eliminating the need to create new cables. Unnecessarily extracting metals from the earth for them can have repercussions on biodiversity, disrupting the habitats of the world’s species. Organizing cables helps to lower pollution from needless manufacturing of new ones.


Proper ventilation prevents heat buildup around cables, keeping systems cooler and operating with effectiveness. This results in a lower carbon footprint and jump in energy savings. When there is reduced strain on the regional electrical grid, interconnected grids benefits.


When cables are properly organized, it lowers the likelihood of forcefully unplugging them or tripping over them accidentally. Both can lead to damaged equipment, and in turn, replacement. The environmental impact is lessened when one less electronic item is dumped in a landfill, and a new one is not produced.


Should it become necessary to throw out equipment or cables, it is important to check your recycling center’s rules on e-waste disposal. Each person looking to properly dispose of e-waste like cables, should check with their local landfill to see if special cable and wire recycling programs exist.


Some experts recommend before tossing or recycling cables (based on your local regulations) to strip wires of their copper core to resell as scrap. This is one small step in unnecessarily mining these metals for new products. Copper is one metal that can be recycled and reused, even for wiring. If you find you are unable to strip cables, look for resources that may accept your old wires, like STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) educational initiatives for students.


If fires and accidents result as a side effect of cable clutter, it can cause widespread damage, whether to a home, apartment building, or commercial property. This can cause injuries and even fatalities. A fire can have a bevy of environmental repercussions, including impact to the structure, property, and surrounding area where the incident occurred. Power strips, and surge protectors should not be overloaded, especially with electrical devices that exceed their capacity. Items like kitchen appliances large and small, hairstyling tools, and heaters or air conditioners, should be plugged directly into wall outlets. Extension cords should only be used temporarily.


The components can each have a separate impact on the environment, seeping into soil and groundwater. PVC and other types of plastic insulation in cables can take centuries to decompose. Rubber insulation may remain intact for decades or longer. Electrical components contain plastics, as well as metals, including copper or aluminum. Each break down on separate timeframes. Metals erode differently than plastics and rubber, with the potential to release ions into the ground. When absorbed into the air, each can eventually enter water bodies, impacting both aquatic creatures and drinking water. The soil could become contaminated from metals, harming plant life as it leaches throughout the ground.

What are some of the cable management products available at CableOrganizer® that can help preserve the lifespan of wires, cables, and cords, potentially keeping them from the landfill? Several of these items are reusable themselves, which makes them sustainable:


hook and loop ties

The beauty of hook and loop fasteners, like the VELCRO® brand, is they are easy to apply and undo without any special tools. A wrap or strap made with this material can simply hook to itself when wrapped around a bundle, to secure and organize cables, whether by keeping them off a floor or attaching them to a desk. There are plenum-rated ones from Panduit® that are UL listed and certified, with a flammability rating of UL94V-2, meaning they have the capacity to stop burning within 30 seconds.


releasable cable ties

While many zip ties are one-time use, there are releasable cable ties that can be used repeatedly, which are beneficial for electronics that may need to be moved. While cable ties can mitigate jumbled wires, releasable kinds are reusable. This makes them another sustainable choice like hook and loop straps.


braided sleeving

When wire harnesses need to be organized and protected, many people turn to braided sleeving. There are different categories based on their materials and applications. It is sustainable because it can be cut as needed from its length, eliminating product waste. A sleeve is additionally reusable in many cases, should there be a need to relocate it to a different harness. Braided sleeving often prevents abrasion and cuts, which prolongs the lifespan of a cable. Some are expandable like Flexo® PET, which can stretch 150% to cover oversized connectors. There are standard wrap-around types like Flexo® F6® that work great with existing wire runs, accommodating wire breakouts. Flexo® Non-Skid is a specialty sleeve that protects cable clutter and prevents skidding with high-friction polymer to minimize slipping. Jumbled cables may experience electromagnetic interference (EMI), radio frequency interference (RFI), and electrostatic discharge (ESD) with expandable metal and shielding braided sleeving, maintaining currents and signal integrity while organizing wires.


under desk cable tray

An under desk cable tray, like the Humanscale® NeatLinks™, can attach in seconds under a desk with an adhesive backing. J Channel Raceway adheres to furniture or walls without tools. An under-desk cable basket like the WireRun® Wahoo™ suspends under a desk with screws to keep cables organized. A cable tray or basket is sustainable because it remains, though electronic devices and their wires around them may be changed out.


cable box

This is another quick and simple way to organize cables. A unit like the BlueLounge® CableBox protects cables plugged into a surge protector by shielding them in a reusable, fire retardant plastic box. The CableBox Mini comes with its own surge protector.

Explore more cable management products here, and desk cable management items here, at CableOrganizer®.

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