New remanufacturing trade body launched to advise EU policy

The ERC aims to increase the proportion of goods that achieve extended life through remanufacturing. [stuart.mike / Flickr]

The European Remanufacturing Council (ERC), a new industry-led body, was launched on Friday (27 January) to represent businesses currently producing £25.5bn (€29.8bn) worth of remanufactured goods that contribute to the circular economy. EURACTIV’s media partner edie.net reports.

By raising policy awareness at an EU level, the ERC aims to increase the proportion of goods that achieve extended life through remanufacturing, from the current rate of 2% to 5%.

The Council was borne out of the Horizon 2020-funded European Remanufacturing Network (ERN), operated by UK-based research and consultancy group Oakdene Hollins. The consultancy firm works with public and private actors to embed sustainable products and services into business operations. This includes running the UK delivery of the EU Ecolabel on behalf of the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

“Recycling grew from 5% in the 1980’s to 50% – let’s see if we can do the same for remanufacturing. If we can…jobs and growth will be our measure of success,” Oakdene Hollins managing director Davis Fitzsimons said on the ERC’s website.

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The ERC will represent small and large firms from all remanufactured product sectors, and will look to highlight the potential for the sector to become an important part of the circular economy. Research suggests that the European remanufacturing sector could be worth €90bn by 2030 if it receives cross-sector policy support and investment from industry.

The Council will publish its annual recommendation on research priorities for national and EU-level innovation funding that will most benefit remanufacturing in Europe. ERC members will have an influence upon the definition of these priorities. Individual companies and European-level trade associations are invited to join the programme.

Take and remake

Much of the current remanufacturing market is driven by the aerospace and automotive sectors. US carmaker Ford, for example, recently developed an innovative remanufacturing technique that aims to give a new lease of life to old engines that would otherwise be scrapped.

The UK is one of the four leading remanufacturing countries in Europe, alongside Germany, France and Italy. Speaking at the edie live conference last year, lead technologist for resource efficiency at Innovate UK Nick Cliffe said that remanufacturing has a “crucial role” to play in every large-scale British heavy industry business model.

Also in 2016, an Oxford University economist told edie that Tata Steel’s Port Talbot production plant could embrace remanufacturing as a way of securing a more sustainable future.

And in November, the world’s largest paint and coatings manufacturer Akzonobel unveiled an innovative not-for-profit paint remanufacturing facility in North West England, as part of the company’s ambition to produce 100,000 litres of remanufactured paint by the end of 2017.

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