The rise of the circular economy in recent years has brought with it a shift in focus toward a sustainable future. As one of the world’s biggest economies, China has been at the forefront of this movement and has set an example for other countries to follow.
While companies are now actively aiming to lower their Scope 3 emissions and are showing their stakeholders and customers that they are aware of the environmental effects their activities have, there is another problem that has plagued the second-user market since people began re-using and refurbishing what was once new: is it reliable?
Many companies worry about whether or not remanufactured products will work as well as new equivalents. This is because remanufacturing is often confused with refurbishing; while refurbishing involves repairing damaged goods by replacing broken parts rather than returning them to their original state, remanufacturing is when something gets recycled into an entirely new product that can be used again.
What is “remanufactured”?
It's a word that you've probably seen more often lately, but what does it mean exactly?
The BSI Group, the organisation responsible for British Standards, define remanufacturing as “the process of returning a used product to at least to its original performance with a warranty that is equivalent or better than that of a newly manufactured product.” As well as stating that “from a consumer viewpoint, the remanufactured product can be the same as a new product.”
This means that a remanufactured item or part, sometimes referred to as “reman” or “remanned” item, can show signs of wear but often has a better overall performance than its new equivalent.
But why is this? Why do we need remanufacturing and what are some examples of it being used today?
Remanufactured items are used OEM products that have had worn components replaced after being fully stripped back. This process often includes, but is not limited to, disassembling, cleaning, replacing worn-out components and repairing everything else. This returns a like-new or better-quality product for the new user and is deemed as reliable, if not more so, than the original product.
It’s important to note that remanufacturing is not the same as refurbished or reconditioned and shouldn’t be mistaken as such. Remanufacturing a laptop, for instance, means it must undergo a process that “returns a used product to at least its an original performance with a warranty that is equivalent to (or better than) new” as required by BS standard BS8887-220 and BS8887-211
What can be remanufactured?
This is a common question because it's one of the most important factors when determining whether or not a product is worth remanufacturing. It's also one of the most difficult to answer because there are so many different products and parts that can be remanufactured.
The list of re-manufacturable items grows year on year as technology advances and the world learns more about the products it produces. Remanufacturing is often for products or parts that have a complex nature, are considered durable and have a high value meaning the cost savings versus new are worth the effort of this intensive process.
A product is particularly suited to be remanufactured if the technology within it is modern, or at the very least, will last a long time. This means that the products at their core must be something that can be reused and repurposed and are durable.
Why should we remanufacture?
Manufacturers have an ethical responsibility to make the most of their resources and to protect the planet. Remanufacturing is a way that they can do that while saving money at the same time.
By remanufacturing, you can reduce your carbon footprint by not having to mine more precious Earth resources and by reducing the amount of energy needed to replace products. In addition, it allows a product to stay in circulation far beyond its original life expectancy, which helps manage what goes to landfills.
What are the advantages of remanufactured laptops?
The product, having as good as or better than the new seal of approval from remanufacturing will also avoid certain issues that would otherwise render the technology obsolete and often be discarded. This could include mechanical failure, hardware malfunctions or even outdated technology. This in turn means that the environmental effects are great as the process significantly contributes to the reduction of carbon emissions from the product’s life cycle. These benefits are passed onto the user or company that purchases these goods in the terms of reducing Scope 3 emissions.
- Remanufacturing allows the continued expectations and delivery of a high standards product in the second-user market which in turn enables the circular economy concept at its core: reuse.
- Remanufacturing reduces waste by extending the lifespan of products by up to three times longer than if they were disposed at end-of-life (EOL). This prolongs their useful life and preserves natural resources, such as minerals, metals and plastics.
Purchasing a remanufactured laptop means that you are investing in a carbon-neutral, environmentally friendly product.
A remanufactured laptop is an environmentally responsible product because it is designed to be recycled and reused, as opposed to being thrown away after only one use.
The use of recycled parts also means that fewer resources need to be used during the production process. This results in less waste and more environmentally conscious products.