Remanufacturing inquiry sparks prospect of national 'network of excellence'
EXCLUSIVE Calls for a UK-wide remanufacturing network have been given a boost by the launch of a government inquiry that will examine the growth potential of this emerging sector.
The parliamentary call for evidence was issued yesterday (11 August) and will be chaired by former Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman and Barry Sheerman MP. It is being jointly conducted by the All-Party Parliamentary Groups for Manufacturing (APMG) and Sustainable Resource (APSRG).
The inquiry will examine the extent to which current government policy is structured towards promoting remanufacturing growth, and analyse how different businesses have adopted remanufacturing processes into their business models.
It will also consider the benefits of alternative types of business models, such as servitisation, in better supporting remanufacturing growth. It follows a study released by the APSRG in March, which outlined key growth opportunities and challenges facing the UK remanufacturing sector.
The inquiry will build on this report, exploring ways in which lessons can be learned from best practice case studies in key industries and applied to currently under-performing remanufacturing sectors such as waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE).
The outcomes of the investigation could pave the way for a national remanufacturing network. A select group of organisations including the High Speed Sustainable Manufacturing Institute (HSSMI) and the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) are assessing the feasibility of setting up such an network. This would enable remanufacturers to exchange knowledge, share best practice and possibly lobby on policy-related issues.
EEF, the manufacturers' organisation, supports such a move. Speaking to edie, EEF's senior climate & environment policy adviser Susanne Baker said the inquiry could help articulate the broader application of remanufacturing and its relevance to specific manufacturing sectors.
"I can't help feel that many still think that this is a niche area with little growth potential. This inquiry will hopefully dispel these myths and provide a stronger business case to support a more ambitious innovation framework, such as a network of excellence," she said.
Baker added that the appetite among UK manufacturers to consider alternative business models that could underpin remanufacturing growth was "clearly there". She pointed to a recent EEF survey that showed a rise in certain types of innovation activity, such as servitisation, among its members to meet growing demand for value-added services.
Meanwhile APSRG manager Laura Owen told edie that the establishment of a remanufacturing network was one of the key recommendations outlined within her organisation's report.
"It's certainly encouraging to see the KTN working in partnership with HSSMI, leading universities and other organisations to develop a centre of excellence for UK remanufacturing. But there is much work to do and government must take a more active role in sparking and supporting the development of remanufacturing in the UK if we are to achieve a more circular economy."
The window for evidence submissions to the inquiry closes on 26 September and a final report will be issued before the end of the year.