Skip to main content

The European Remanufacturing Network - coordinating and supporting European remanufacturers

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ERN (The European Remanufacturing Network - coordinating and supporting European remanufacturers)

Reporting period: 2015-02-01 to 2017-01-31

Remanufacturing is an important component of a resource efficient manufacturing industry. By keeping components and their embodied material in use for longer, significant energy use and emissions to air and water (e.g. CO2 and SO2) can be avoided. In addition to environmental benefits, remanufacturing provides opportunities for the creation of highly skilled jobs and economic growth.

Despite these accolades, remanufacturing is an undervalued part of the industrial landscape and an under-recognised sustainable industry. Activity to promote remanufacturing is currently undertaken at a sectoral level for some product sectors. In Europe, unlike in the recycling industry, cross-sectoral activities to facilitate knowledge transfer and promote the industry do not exist. Our major competitors, the US and China, already have a common vision and strategy for remanufacturing within their industrial landscape. An outcome may be that European remanufacturing could lose competitiveness against these more organised sectors. As a result, there is a real need for a European-level solution to encourage remanufacturing throughout Europe.

This project has seen the formation, coordination and support of a European Remanufacturing Network (ERN). The overall objectives of this two-year project were:
- To map the remanufacturing landscape in Europe through a detailed market survey.
- To equip remanufacturers and would-be remanufacturers with the tools to remanufacture profitably and resource-efficiently.
- To facilitate the development of sustainable partnerships between remanufacturing organisations for future research, collaboration, knowledge transfer and lobbying.
- To raise the profile of remanufacturing in the public and political and policy making spheres.
- To set up an industry-led council that will represent the views of remanufacturers across Europe and continue the work started under the Council after the project has completed. This will ensure the potential impact of the ERN continues beyond the duration of the project.

The action concludes that the ERN has helped foster relationships between remanufacturers and to capture and disseminate remanufacturing knowledge. Key recommendations for furthering European remanufacturing have been collated and the Conseil Européen de Remanufacture (CER) will further promote the interests of European remanufacturers.
The project began with a study of European remanufacturing market - the first of its kind. An initial scoping exercise identified nine sector categories where significant remanufacturing activities might be occurring. These sectors were: aerospace, automotive (including components, engines and tyre retreads), electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) (including consumer electronics (ICT and mobile electronics), ink and toner cartridges, and white goods), furniture (including office furniture), heavy duty and off road equipment, machinery (including pumps, machine tools and food processing machinery), marine industry, medical equipment and rail industry.

In summary, remanufacturing activity in Europe generates around €30bn in turnover and employs around 190,000 people. These are substantial numbers but represent an intensity (ratio of remanufacturing to new manufacturing) of only 1.9%. Both intensity and overall value lag the US experience. It is, therefore, apparent that there is substantial headroom for growth, given the right interventions and framework conditions.

Landscaping studies on remanufacturing business models, design for remanufacturing and remanufacturing processes were conducted to describe the different approaches taken by remanufacturers. This work was also used to produce case studies of best practice, which were incorporated into an on-line tool for actors to see exemplars of remanufacturing practice and disseminate this knowledge. An on-line educational course, consisting of seven, narrated videos, was also produced.

Workshops were conducted around Europe to disseminate knowledge on remanufacturing amongst industry and academia. The results of the market and landscaping studies were also presented. Some of the latter workshops also included opportunities for participants to contribute towards the compilation of the targeted recommendations report. This report took a methodical approach to capturing and prioritising recommendations for furthering the development of the European remanufacturing industry, with the recommendations targeted at specific actors.

Throughout the project, the outputs were published on the project website and remanufacturing actors were also able to sing up to the European Remanufacturing Network.

The project concluded with the launch of the CER, an industry-led council to promote the interests of remanufacturers in Europe, which will continue to operate beyond the conclusion of the ERN project.
The European remanufacturing market study conducted as part of this project is the first study of its kind to estimate the current and potential size of the European remanufacturing market. This study could have a significant impact for a number of actors, including existing remanufacturers, potential remanufacturers, policy makers and the general public. Existing remanufacturers may be able to learn lessons from remanufacturers in other product sectors, e.g. how they respond to opportunities and barriers. It may also encourage collaboration between remanufacturers in pursuing mutual research projects to address common technical or strategic remanufacturing challenges. Both existing and potential remanufacturers may be encouraged by the analysis of the potential size of the European remanufacturing market. This could lead to expanded or new remanufacturing capabilities being developed in Europe, which would have implications on employment in the region, and also increasing the circularity of material consumption in Europe. Policy makers will be better informed about the nature and characteristics of the European remanufacturing market and could be encouraged to address some of the regional barriers to remanufacturing through policy and could even develop policy specifically to encourage increased remanufacturing and trade of remanufactured goods.

The resources made available to actors interested in remanufacturing via the project (landscape reports, on-line tool kits, on-line educational course, recommendations reports) will also help raise the profile of remanufacturing and help foster knowledge transfer between actors and sectors. The networking opportunities created by the numerous workshops held and the launch of the CER have also benefited remanufacturers in developing new relationships and partnerships.

The CER will be a lasting legacy for the project, and will contribute towards the strategic positioning of European remanufacturers as world-leading practitioners.