Topic 3 Remanufacturing and sustainability

As we have seen, in remanufacturing, products are either refurbished or reconditioned to the same quality control as new products and are subsequently returned to market. Remanufacturing is more energy efficient as compared to recycling, because no new materials have to be processed. Remanufacturing also saves landfill space and costs in effort and time.

Remanufactured products can be considered the same as a new product, especially in terms of quality. For example, the performance of those products after remanufacturing is expected to beat least as good as the original performance specifications. Also, they are given a customer warranty in the same terms as when you buy with new products. So, why waste new raw materials?

  • What are the benefits of remanufacturing for the customer, the environment, and the company-remanufacturer?  Do some online research and write your answer in a notepad or discuss them with your fellow participants or friends. In case you need some additional resources, this video on remanufacturing or this link can help you.
  • Your company wants to change PCs for all employees. They are thinking what they should do with the old computers: recycling, repairing, or giving them for remanufacturing? They ask all their employees to send them their opinion. What would you reply? Explain by giving your reasons and mentioning the advantages and benefits for your company and also for the environment regarding the CE method you choose. Share your opinion with your fellow participants or friends/family.

The reuse of materials through remanufacturing, and recycling and reuse strategies helps the companies to reduce at different level their environmental impact when reusing products end-of-life (remember the “butterfly diagram”). However, the scientific community has underlined the importance of finding ways which can offer companies environmental sustainability practices also in the development of new products and not only in the reusing of products end-of-life. González-Benito and González-Benito (2005) identified 4 principles that should be followed to develop environmentally sustainable products:

(1) Replacement of polluting and hazardous materials;

(2) Development of projects that focus not only on reducing resource consumption but also on diminishing waste generation during the production; and distribution stages of products to consumers;

(3) Product design aimed at reducing the consumption of resources and generation of waste during the use of products by consumers;

(4) Product development focusing on dismantling, reuse, and recycling.

If you are interested in this, you can search material for Ecodesign, which aims to support companies and designers in developing eco-efficient products by integrating environmental requirements and also takes into account designing and creating products in a greener way, adopting cleaner technologies, and preventing the generation of waste.

You did great! Now you can continue to Module 4!