Tuesday, 09 December 2014 12:07

Government urged to wake up to re-manufacturing potential

Politicians of all colours have concluded that the UK Government will threaten sustainable production if it doesn't 'lift the regulatory burden' on remanufacturing, and wake up to the sector's 'enormous economic, social and environmental potential'.

remanufacturing report1The report 'Triple Win' by the All-Party Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group (APSRG) and All-Party Parliamentary Manufacturing Group (APMG), follows an eight-month inquiry chaired by former Environment Secretary Rt Hon Caroline Spelman MP and Barry Sheerman MP, co-chair of both the APSRG and APMG.

The 108-page report lays out more than twenty recommendations for government and industry, warning that with the future of manufacturing 'inextricably linked to environmental sustainability', remanufacturing must play an increasingly 'critical role' in helping reduce the consumption of virgin raw materials and in exploiting new areas of comparative advantage.

The report warns that despite its expansion in recent years, the UK remanufacturing sector continues to face significant barriers to growth due to an ongoing regulatory focus on lower denominators of the waste hierarchy such as recycling, rather than on encouraging minimisation of material usage through remanufacture.

Recommendations include calling on government to adopt a legal definition of remanufacturing to provide clarity between it and other aspects of the circular economy, as well as amending its Guidance on the Legal Definition of Waste to distinguish a product that is due to be remanufactured as being exempt from those products considered as waste.

It further calls on government to lead by example by putting UK remanufactured items at the heart of government procurement projects, including office furnishing, electrical equipment and medical supplies.

The report also calls on industry to work more collaboratively across the supply chain, and challenges Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and third party remanufacturers to open clearer lines of communication between themselves.

To help foster such communication, the report also lays out best practice case studies of how different UK businesses have successfully adopted remanufacturing processes into their business models. It also calls on government to develop an online platform to host and support knowledge exchange between industry players.

Inquiry co-chair Caroline Spelman MP commented: "The UK can be a world leader in remanufacturing excellence, but only if government and industry set themselves ambitious targets and commit to working together to realise the enormous 'triple win' potential that remanufacturing offers in economic, social and environmental terms.

remanufacturing report caroline2"The opportunities are enormous. Remanufacturing increases the potential for reshoring parts and products, provides opportunities for improving national resource resilience and has the potential for economic growth and the creation of thousands of skilled jobs, particularly at SME level. As we approach the next election, we urge this government and the next to do more to exploit this important new frontier of economic and environmental growth potential."

Also commenting ahead of the launch, inquiry co-chair Barry Sheerman MP added: "The case for achieving greater levels of remanufacturing in this country is undeniable, not just in environmental terms, but in social and economic terms also. That's why this report calls on government to create new apprenticeships across the remanufacturing value chain and ensure sustainable design and engineering courses are taught in higher education institutions across the UK. It is vital that remanufacturing, and the wider circular economy, are put at the heart of government strategies for skills and employment over the next ten years."

EEF, the manufacturers' organisation, has responded to the 'Triple Win: The Social, Economic and Environmental Case for Remanufacturing' report. Susanne Baker, Senior Climate and Environment Policy Adviser at EEF, who sat on the steering group for the inquiry, says: "The inquiry is clear: remanufacturing can provide strong economic and environmental benefits, but there are obstacles and barriers that need to be overcome.

remanufacturing report barry"There is still a gap in awareness – our research shows that over half of manufacturers are unaware of remanufacturing or have simply not considered it. This is particularly true amongst small and medium sized companies, who potentially have much to gain, but are far more likely not to have considered this business model.

"It's clear that much more can be done to help this sector flourish. This inquiry has helped put remanufacturing on the map and we hope that this helps to boost awareness and drive strong support for this fantastically innovative and exciting sector of manufacturing."

Dr. Tim Johnson from environmental technology company Tetronics International, gave evidence on the waste electronic and electrical equipment (WEEE) sector. He said: "This is an important report which demonstrates the urgent need to put in place policies which encourage recovering value from waste. The report rightly recognises that, where remanufacture is not an option, recovery of valuable resources through technology developed by companies such as Tetronics should be encouraged.

"It is shocking that electronic waste, for example, is still shipped abroad or illegally exported to developing countries – damaging the environment and people's lives – when we have the capability right here in the UK to process it and recover precious metals.

"We are calling for a ban on exporting certain components found in electronic waste. Doing so would boost economic growth and lead to the UK becoming a global leader in green technology."

 The report was launched formally in Parliament on Monday 8th December at a reception in the Houses of Parliament. Waste Minister Dan Rogerson received the report on behalf of the Government. The inquiry was supported by the High Value Manufacturing Catapult.

'Triple Win' remanufacturing report
High Value Manufacturing Catapult
Next Manufacturing Revolution
All-Party Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group
All-Party Parliamentary Manufacturing Group