Materials recycling is well-established, but not necessarily resource-efficient. Volker Schittenhelm makes the case for product recycling – otherwise known as remanufacturing - as a much greener alternative.
Recycling has become a recognised factor in the world of economy and politics. Recycling is regarded as positive, as it impacts environmental protection (…it’s better than throwing away). But recycled products do not show the ultimate form of environmental protection or carbon footprint savings at the end of their first life cycle!
It is important to differentiate between materials recycling and product recycling. The former – and best-known at the public and political levels - is the process whereby used, worn-out or damaged products are disassembled, materials are sorted and elements such as copper, steel and aluminium are returned to the next production cycle. From there, new products – different from the previous determination – are manufactured.
So far, so good. But why not disassemble a product (e.g. an engine), exchange worn parts such as gaskets and bearings, and machine worn-out parts such as cylinders and shafts to genuine manufacturers’ repair specifications – and then assemble, test and sell it for another life of thousands of kilometres?
Recycling of products – i.e. engine remanufacturing - on the other hand, is an even more valuable process – and one that’s less demanding in terms of energy consumption. Through a high level of know-how, product remanufacturers make optimal use of parts and components so they can be returned to the market place as new products.
Unfortunately, this ultimate form of recycling has not yet achieved the status it deserves – in spite of the fact that engines have been remanufactured or rebuilt for more than 75 years, thus providing an important contribution to the development of an environmentally sound economies. For the European engine rebuilder the ‘green’ industry has already a long tradition – and they come very close to meeting demands for ‘almost no waste’.
So consider engine reman first! That is FIRM’s message to the public, to politicians, political parties and all organisations and associations which talk about environmental protection and resource efficiency. Waste management and recycling of material is without question a contribution to reduce pollution and CO2 emissions! But leading an engine to a second life cycle is much, much better! The environmental benefits have already been quantified in a study that the German association of engine remanufacturers, VMI, has made together with the University of Trier.
And please take into consideration that buying a remanufactured engine is not at all a compromise, but good for your budget and for the environment. PR slogans from industry participants (OEM as well as independent aftermarket) even indicate that reman engines are as good as new or even better.
Actual studies about people’s environmental interests reveal their general mentality: environmental protection, yes - but without any extra cost! So buying and using remanufactured engines saves money and protects the environment – what do you want more?
And the engine reman industry moves: definitions and quality standards from high-ranking associations and independent guideline-establishing organisations have been, or will be, published in the future. That will lead to a high transparency and thus acceptance and confidence on customer’s side. Nationwide product (not process) quality labels and certification processes (already established in engine reman associations in France and Turkey) will certainly also contribute to the knowledge, confidence and acceptance of our still-hidden, resource-efficient industry. Let’s do our work and promote us and our industry at any time and at any place.
Today FIRM – the international umbrella association of engine rebuilders - has about 850 members in Austria, Belgium, France, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Turkey and UK. Through hard work and expertise these companies are making a strong contribution to a greener environment, job enhancement and economic advances.
For more information: www.FIRM-org.eu