First impressions count

  • February 06, 2019
  • Volker Schittenhelm

FIRM was an early contributor to, and supporter of, the CER’s vision for raising the pro­file of reman. Volker Schittenhelm reflects on the early stages of what is already a successful partnership.

At the beginning of 2015, the EU Commission announced that UK-based research and consulting company, Oakdene Hollins, would be funded in order to set up a reman-related project consisting of a reman study with key figures, a European reman network and a European Remanufacturing Council (CER). The first reaction of established trade associations like FIRM was to keep an eye on the venture. Risk or opportunity? Competition or new partner?

Always open for networking within the global reman industry - and with the only target making our environmental impacting industry better known to the public and to politicians – we decided to embrace the chance, to see the partnership and thus to approach Oakdene Hollins. At the 2015 edition of ReMaTec, members of the FIRM board offered our expertise, our competence, our position in the industry and our network in order to support the CER’s funded responsibilities. And it was a good and prospective strategic decision!

Meanwhile, FIRM is a member of the CER, representing the automotive segment of reman alongside IT, aerospace, toner & cartridges, medical & healthcare and logistics. Last November, IBM’s European headquarters in Paris hosted the CER’s ­first members’ meeting which covered updates about activities, organisational decisions, the working programme for 2018 and the steering committee.

Working programme
• Find a suitable MEP within the EU Commission to help CER navigate EU institutions and legislation
• Produce a two-page position paper showing the various segments of reman, explaining the principle of a product’s second life cycle, distinguishing between material and product recycling and presenting key figures with regard to the industry’s turnover, employment and CO2 reduction
• Look at tax-related issues like tax equalisation within Europe or tax reduction for renewed products To sum up, members’ priorities were centred on Brussels and on policy issues
- but it was also stressed that the CER does not want to be in competition with existing product-based associations. It should help other associations, encourage collaborations and operate on a global network level.

Steering committee
In order to strengthen the decisionmaking process and to channel and classify the members’ wishes and speci­fic needs, a steering committee was recommended. The following member representatives volunteered:
Maxime Furkel – Lexmark (cartidges)
Geoff Willis – Slater Electricals (electrical)
Vincent van Dijk – ETIRA (toner & cartridges)
Andrew Lahy – Panalpina (logistics)
Volker Schittenhelm – FIRM (automotive)
The steering committee has decisionmaking rights and will have at least four meetings per year, with the first one in early 2018.

Conclusion
Although quite new in the business, CER will play an important role within the global reman network and in the global discussion of the circular economy to which reman - in the sense of the second life cycle - belongs without question. It is very important for established and experienced associations and organisations like FIRM to be part of that council in order to steer and support the organisers in their efforts. On the condition that we kept our independence, FIRM’s first impression of Oakdene Hollins still counts and we made the right decision to participate and steer! So we say to the CER: welcome to our global network, with the main and biggest reman industry stakeholder platform of ReMaTec.

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