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Editor's Blog and Industry Comments

Parliamentary report: UK missing out on remanufacturing "Triple Win"

01 January, 2015
Following the launch of the APSRG’s report "Remanufacturing: Towards a Resource-Efficient Economy" in March 2014, the All-Party Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group and All-Party Parliamentary Manufacturing Group’s new report goes deeper into analysing the potential for remanufacturing growth in UK industry. With an estimated value of over £5 billion to the UK economy, remanufacturing represents a key driver of both economic growth and the move towards a more circular economy.

Remanufacturing is defined as a series of manufacturing steps acting on an end-of-life part or product in order to return it to like-new or better performance, with warranty to match.


Chaired by Rt Hon Caroline Spelman MP and Barry Sheerman MP, the inquiry has outlined the UK’s position in the global remanufacturing sphere, looking at particular industries where remanufacturing is already developed and where it may need further support. The report The report 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. It argues that remanufacturing provides valuable economic, environmental as well as social opportunities for the UK, but further legislative support and UK-based research and development is needed for the industry to grow to its full potential.


The 108-page report lays out more than 20 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.


Speaking ahead of the report’s launch, 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. 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.”




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