Closing the loop: Centre of Excellence needed to support UK remanufacturing, report argues
The UK is lagging behind other developed nations in harnessing the value of remanufacturing and needs its own Centre of Excellence to support the rapidly-growing industry.
That's the finding of a new report from a coalition including The Carbon Trust, Innovate UK's Knowledge Transfer Network and Coventry University.
The report claims that remanufacturing, which refers to restoring parts or products at the end of their useful life to like-new or better condition, currently contributes around £2.4bn to the British economy. But, with appropriate support through a Centre of Excellence, this could be increased to more than £5.6bn.
Aside from the broader economic benefit, remanufacturing also offers a 'triple win' to consumers, manufacturers and the environment, the coalition of authors claim.
The Carbon Trust's associate director Aleyn Smith-Gillespie said: "High value manufacturing is a real area of strength for the UK economy. It is also the area where the business case for remanufacturing is strongest. There are a number of opportunities for growth in British remanufacturing, particularly in sectors such as automotive, defence, aerospace, medical equipment, and electronics.
"Supporting remanufacturing and closed-loop resource use should be a no brainer. Incorporating remanufacturing into business models and products not only provides economic and environmental benefits, it can also create new opportunities for business growth and employment."
The cost to remanufacture a product is typically 40-65% less than the production of a new product, allowing for a market re-sell price that is around 30-40% lower. Similarly, remanufacturing typically uses 85% less energy than manufacturing and globally offsets more than 800,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emission a year.
Several countries around the world – including the USA, China, Japan and Germany – have established centres of excellence or have strong policies specifically to support the growth of remanufacturing. No equivalent framework exists in the UK, which is the issue the coalition behind the new report are seeking to address.
The proposed Centre of Excellence would:
- Establish and execute technology projects to address industry problems and barriers
- Provide advice to industry
- Advise the government and funding bodies on interventions to promote and encourage remanufacturing where it would add value to the UK economy
- Develop case studies, promote exemplars and share best practice
- Work with other bodies (professional institutions, LEPs etc.) to explore synergies for training and capacity building
This new report follows an eight-month inquiry by the All-Party Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group (APSRG), which concluded that Government 'must do more to lift a regulatory burden on remanufacturing'.
Back in October, the Scottish Government announced funding of £1.3m for a Scottish Institute of Remanufacture to realise the value of materials like gold and electrical components harvested from recycled televisions, mobile phones and computers.