Remanufacturing has a long history in the UK, it was essentially borne out of the need to conserve valuable resources and help rebuild a collapsed economy and create jobs in the aftermath of the second world war.
The idea of designing a product that is robust and easy to disassemble so that it can be remanufactured/rebuilt with ‘multiple’ lives not only makes economic sense for the consumer but also environmental sense for society and the planet. The term ‘Circular Economy’ flies in the face of the ‘linear economic’ model and the ‘single life’ ethos as it tries to eek out every last ounce of resource and value that was put into the original product.
Remanufacturing is a broad church and there are good examples of the practice to be had in many industrial sectors from aerospace to automotive and rail to white goods and electrical. The one thing they all have in common is the ability to produce a product with a second life that is at least equal to the performance of the original new product and in many cases far superior to other new ‘single life’ products placed on the market.
Not only about saving natural resources, remanufacturing also means that there is significantly less waste to dispose of. In many cases that disposal could see end of life products being exported to the opposite side of the world, but with more countries looking to stop the practice of receiving other countries waste this could cause problems for the UK and other Western countries in the years to come.
In summary, remanufacturing and the circular economy is therefore more than just a process, it is a philosophy, a different business model and a totally different way of working and looking at things. Long global supply and disposal chains are shortened and made more resilient as remanufacturing in the vast majority of cases is performed in the country where the product is used, thus providing skilled jobs in the local communities across the breadth and depth of the UK.
Some 75 years on since it’s original concept in very challenging economic times how fitting is it then that the government and industry should be looking at another ‘green recovery’ to bring us out of the Covid 19 health crisis and the resultant economic recession. Let’s hope that in its investigations to come up with an answer to the present-day crisis that the government doesn’t forget the numerous advantages that come from the ‘proven’ model of the circular economy and remanufacturing, and its ability to help us on the road to ‘net zero’. The initial signs are looking positive with the government just recently announcing its plans to transpose the European Union’s Circular Economy Package into UK law later this year.