Calls to remove regulatory barriers and raise awareness of remanufacturing have been welcomed by MPs, following the publication of a report by the All-Party Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group (APSRG).
Remanufacturing towards a resource efficient economy warns the UK is failing to capitalise on the economic and environmental advantages presented by the remanufacturing sector.
The report estimates the sector is currently worth more than £2billion, with the potential to increase to £5.6billion alongside the creation of between 200,000 and 300,000 skilled jobs.
But, it goes on to suggest there is no universally accepted definition of remanufacturing – the process of restoring an end-of-life component or product to “like-new” performance, which is often confused with reuse and recycling.
The report calls on government to amend its guidance on the legal definition of waste in order to distinguish a product that is due to be remanufactured as being exempt from those products that are currently considered as waste, ensuring they do not fall within the remit of waste regulations.
It highlights the End of Life Vehicles (ELV) Directive as an example where the benefits of remanufacturing have been obscured. At present, no credit is offered to vehicle manufacturers to incentivise remanufacture, which makes other options such as recycling more attractive.
It also recommends the adoption of a certified mark for remanufacturing to address buying standards and demonstrate products have been tested and fully comply with buying standards of a new product – similar to the tick mark logo imposed on FSC approved timber and forestry products.
The report concludes that small and medium-sized enterprises cannot rely solely on a leap-of-faith approach to remanufacture and better education is needed through the creation of a new Centre of Excellence for UK Remanufacturing.
Publication of the report follows a three-month inquiry chaired by former environment secretary Caroline Spelman, who urged government not to let the UK fall behind the rapidly expanding global remanufacturing industry.
“One of our first challenges with the public is getting them to understand what remanufacturing is, and we can do this by getting a clearer definition from government,” said Spelman.
“It is going to be difficult to compete at a global level and tackling some of the barriers that remanufacturing is hindered by is needed.
“Remanufacturing is a concept that works right across the spectrum, from small companies to large companies. It needs to be taught in schools as an example of the circular economy, as the next generation is already more passionate about sustainability.”
Also speaking at the launch, Laura Sandys, chair of the 2020 Conservatives’ productivity and efficiency group, called the cross-party approval of the measures a ‘political love-in’.
Sandys went on to comment that government should be looking at imposing landfill bans, and modernise its old-fashioned ideas on waste.