UK remanufacturing industry lags behind the rest of the world

All-Party Sustainable Resource Group (APSRG) and All-Party Manufacturing Group (APMG) concluded in London last week that the UK continues to lag behind the rest of the world when it comes to developing a remanufacturing industry.

"People have been listening to the recommendations of this group. The European Commission is now paying attention to what is needed in the new circular economy package, and Defra has taken the recommendations of our report and passed it onto the Commission," said Caroline Spelman, co-chair of a APSRG and APMG report published last December. "But barriers still remain. I recently bumped into one of the most senior civil servants at Defra, and he had not even heard of remanufacturing. It's a bit depressing. It's not a question of any member of Government taking a stand against remanufacturing, but there is certainly a systemic blockage and Defra actually needs to be the champion of the cause, pushing the Treasury into releasing money for this sector."

More practical support from Government is needed

Director of the newly launched Scottish Institute for Remanufacture (SIR) Dr Winifred Ijomah, agreed that last year's report helped to raise awareness, but said more practical support from Government was needed, namely funding and developing a national centre for expertise.

Remanufacturing is estimated to contribute £5.6bn to the UK economy, but the sector continues to lacks capital to leverage research and development, a skilled workforce specific to remanufacturing, and the legal uptake of a definition for "remanufacturing". The US, meanwhile, has become a world-leader and other countries, such as China, Japan and Germany, are investing heavily in the sector and removing regulatory barriers or incorporating subsidies.

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