News: UK - report profiles remanufacturing opportunities in SE England
The Centre for Sustainable Design has published a report concluding that promotion of remanufacture will raise demand for technical skills, research and development.
Tuesday, 17th June 2008
Entrepreneurial spirit can be encouraged, particularly by designers in collaboration with remanufacturers to take advantage of the opportunities of remanufacture. In promoting remanufacture, SEEDA (South East England Development Agency) has an opportunity to decrease carbon emissions, reduce landfill, increase skilled employment and secure sustainable economic growth, giving the South-East the potential to increase regional activity and become a ‘Factor 4’ region. Remanufacture can offer a business model for sustainable prosperity, with reputed double profit margins alongside a significant reduction in carbon emissions (OHL, 2004) and 15% of the energy required in manufacture (Steinhilper, 2006). Remanufacture also diverts material from landfill and creates a market for skilled employment. These benefits potentially place remanufacturing as a major contributor to sustainable prosperity and a Factor 4 society. Remanufacturing in the UK is an industry already worth £5 billion per year (OHL, 2004). However, considering that the 2003 value of manufacturing industry in the UK was £447 billion (ESRC, 2006) the actual practice of remanufacture is limited. The majority of both remanufacture and product design in the UK occurs in the South East and London. The South East is well-placed to connect these sectors and develop a model of leadership in Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP). The majority of remanufacturers are independent companies operating with less than 5 employees (OHL, 2004). The ability of design to identify and resolve inefficiencies in remanufacture is poorly understood or irrelevant to the majority of remanufacturers because as small independent remanufacturers they have little or no control over the design process. Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) control the design process and could potentially control remanufacture; as such OEMs are key to establishing Design for Remanufacture however only a very few OEMs are currently engaged in remanufacture. The relatively small take-up of remanufacturing comes despite anecdotal reports that remanufacture can be twice as profitable as manufacture (Steinhilper, 2006). The very small number of OEMs designing their business models and products to take advantage of the opportunities of remanufacture combined with a lack of cross-fertilisation between industry sectors is constraining the take-up of remanufacture. Remanufacture is poorly understood by industry and suffers confusion with other elements of ‘re’ (recycling, repair, reconditioning etc.). Effective methods of improving awareness of remanufacture need to be identified. The Centre for Sustainable Design facilitates discussion and research on eco-design and broader sustainability considerations in product and service development. This is achieved through training, workshops, conferences, research, consultancy, publications, and the Internet.