European remanufacturing sector could triple by 2030

The European remanufacturing sector could be worth €90bn by 2030 if it receives cross-sector policy support and investment from industry, a new report has found.

The European Remanufacturing Network (ERN) estimates the current size of the sector to be just under €30bn, around 2% of the size of the new manufacturing market.

This figure reportedly lags behind the US – the largest remanufacturer in the world – although the ERN couldn’t provide updated figures for the exact size of the US market.

The report, released on Tuesday, found that the EU market could triple in size over the next 15 years, provided “cross-sectoral activities to facilitate knowledge transfer and promote the industry” were put in place.

The remanufacturing process aims to return a product to at least its original performance with a warranty that is equivalent or better than that of the newly manufactured product. Keeping components and their embodied material in use can help avoid significant energy use and emissions. In addition to its environmental benefits, remanufacturing provides opportunities for the creation of highly skilled jobs and economic growth.

“The top motives for businesses to remanufacture are higher profit margins, environmental responsibility, a strategic advantage and increased market share,” said report co-author Seigo Robinson.“These all point to an encouraging view of the future of the remanufacturing industry from those within the business”.

Other motives include a secure spare parts supply, potential to lower product prices, opportunities through alternative business models, reduced resource security risk, customer pressure, asset and brand protection, and reduced lead times.

Domestic picture

The UK is one of the four leading remanufacturing countries in Europe, alongside Germany, France and Italy. Much of the current market is driven by the aerospace sector, which does by far the most remanufacturing, followed by the automotive industry. US carmaker Ford, for example, recently developed an innovative remanufacturing technique that aims to give a new lease of life to old engines that would otherwise be scrapped.

However, a recent conference held by the All-Party Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group (APSRG) and All-Party Parliamentary Manufacturing Group (APMG) concluded that there was a systemic blockage in the UK political system regarding remanufacturing.

The two groups concluded that Defra needs to be the champion of the cause, pushing the Treasury into releasing money for the sector.

Also speaking at the conference was director of the newly-launched Scottish Institute for Remanufacture (SIR) Dr Winifred Ijomah, who said that more practical support from Government – namely funding and the development of a national centre for expertise – is needed for the industry to achieve its full potential.

Brad Allen



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