An initiative set up to expand remanufacturing across Europe has calculated that remanufacturing activities already employ around 190,000 and could triple in worth by 2030.
The findings come from the EU-funded European Remanufacturing Network (ERN), which was established in May 2015 and aims to boost the levels of remanufacturing throughout Europe.
Remanufacturing involves collecting and restoring used products to at least their original performance, with a warranty that is equivalent to or better than that of a newly manufactured replacement.
By keeping components and their embodied material in use for longer, remanufacturing can significantly reduce waste, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.
For manufacturers, remanufacturing represents an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage and forge longer-lasting relationships with customers.
“The top motives for businesses to remanufacture are higher profit margins, environmental responsibility, a strategic advantage and increased market share”, said Seigo Robinson, senior consultant at Oakdene Hollins, which compiled the ERN’s study.
“These all point to an encouraging view of the future of the remanufacturing industry from those within the business.”
Despite being in its infancy, the study estimates that remanufacturing is already worth around €30 billion (£22.8 billion) in Europe, with around €4.4 billion (£3.3 billion) of that value occurring in the UK.
Germany currently undertakes the most remanufacturing by a significant margin, making up almost a third of European remanufacturing turnover.
With the right governmental support and investment, the ERN estimates that the European market could reach €100 billion (£76 billion) and employ half a million people by 2030.
According to the ERN, much of the current remanufacturing market is driven by the aerospace and automotive industries. Other key sectors include electronic and electrical equipment (EEE), machinery and medical equipment, and smaller sectors such as furniture, rail and marine equipment.
However, despite its potential, the ERN argues that European remanufacturing is currently undervalued and could lose out to major competitors like the USA and China without coordinated support.
A separate report from industry and academia, released in 2015, also argued that the UK was lagging behind other advanced economies.
The ERN now plans to add value for remanufacturers or aspiring remanufacturers by mapping the challenges of remanufacturing business models, product designs and processes.