Re-think­ing pro­duc­tion

The Gulf Today - Time Out - - YOUNG WORLD | ENVIRONMENT - BY MEENA S. JA­NARD­HAN

Re-think­ing how we man­u­fac­ture in­dus­trial prod­ucts and deal with them at the end of their use­ful life could pro­vide break­through en­vi­ron­men­tal, so­cial and eco­nomic beneits, ac­cord­ing to new re­search from the In­ter­na­tional Re­source Panel (IRP).

Value-re­ten­tion prac­tices such as re­man­u­fac­tur­ing, re­fur­bish­ment, re­pair, and di­rect re-use could cut in­dus­trial waste by be­tween 80 and 99 per cent in some sec­tors. Green­house gas emis­sions could fall by 79 to 99 per cent across these sec­tors if value-re­ten­tion prac­tices were adopted. Em­brac­ing a cir­cu­lar econ­omy can lead to new jobs and mar­kets.

If prod­ucts were re­man­u­fac­tured, com­pre­hen­sively re-fur­bished, re­paired and di­rectly re-used, the amount of new ma­te­rial needed could be sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced – by 80-98 per cent for re-man­u­fac­tur­ing, 82-99 per cent for com­pre­hen­sive re­fur­bish­ing, and 94-99 per cent for re­pair.

The re­port re­leased at the World Cir­cu­lar Econ­omy Fo­rum called‘ Rede in ing Value–The Man­u­fac­tur­ing Rev­o­lu­tion. Re­man­u­fac­tur­ing, Re­fur­bish­ment, Re­pair and Di­rect Re­use’ in the Cir­cu­lar Econ­omy, says the adop­tion of these “val­uere­ten­tion pro­cesses” could also re­duce green­house gas emis­sions in some sec­tors by 79 to 99 per cent.

These sec­tors ex­am­ined in the re­port are au­to­mo­tive parts, heavy-duty ofload ma­chin­ery (for ex­am­ple, dig­gers and ex­ca­va­tors), and in­dus­trial print­ing equip­ment. But there is sig­ni­icant po­ten­tial be­yond these sec­tors for fur­ther re­duc­tions.

WIN-WIN SIT­U­A­TION

To­day, two-thirds of us live in cities, drain­ing na­ture of ma­te­ri­als to build homes, schools, hos­pi­tals, roads, trans­port sys­tems and fac­to­ries. Ur­ban­iza­tion, to­gether with a grow­ing mid­dle-class, has in­creased de­mand for con­sumer goods. In the 20th cen­tury, we dug up, chopped down, drilled for or har­vested 34 times more con­struc­tion ma­te­ri­als, 27 times more ore and min­er­als, 12 times more fos­sil fu­els and 3.6 times more biomass than in the years be­fore.

Adopt­ing value-re­ten­tion pro­cesses is a win-win sit­u­a­tion for gov­ern­ments, in­dus­try and cus­tomers. Gov­ern­ments would have less waste to deal with, gen­er­ate green jobs, and stim­u­late eco­nomic growth; in­dus­try could lower pro­duc­tion cost, avoid re­source con­straints on busi­ness growth, and open new mar­ket seg­ments; and cus­tomers could beneit from lower prices for re­fur­bished prod­ucts.

Cur­rently, re-man­u­fac­tur­ing ac­counts for only 2 per cent of pro­duc­tion in the United States, and 1.9 per cent in Europe, leav­ing am­ple op­por­tu­nity to de­velop these mar­kets. While there is no one-size-fits-all ap­proach, where pur­sued strate­gi­cally and sys­tem­at­i­cally, adop­tion of value-re­ten­tion pro­cesses can ac­cel­er­ate a coun­try’s move to a cir­cu­lar econ­omy: pro in­creas­ing pro­duc­tion, with­out in­creas­ing the neg­a­tive en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts.

Sum­mary of pol­icy rec­om­men­da­tions

Ac­cord­ing to the sum­mary re­leased by the IRP, the in­creased adop­tion of value-re­ten­tion pro­cesses (VRPs) can en­able sub­stan­tial en­vi­ron­men­tal beneits and eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties for coun­tries pur­su­ing a tran­si­tion to cir­cu­lar econ­omy. The rec­om­men­da­tions that high­light the key pri­or­i­ties that pol­i­cy­mak­ers from ev­ery coun­try should in­cor­po­rate into a broader cir­cu­lar econ­omy strat­egy are listed below.

1. Elim­i­nate reg­u­la­tory bar­ri­ers that im­pede and/or pro­hibit the move­ment of in­ished VRP prod­ucts within and be­tween coun­tries.

2. Elim­i­nate reg­u­la­tory bar­ri­ers that in­ter­fere with the move­ment of cores1 within and be­tween coun­tries and en­sure that cores are as far as pos­si­ble con­sid­ered as ‘non-waste’. This ef­fort must be bal­anced with equally im­por­tant mea­sures to pre­vent dump­ing (e.g. e-waste) that may oc­cur un­der the guise of VRPs.

3. Ac­cept and align VRP def­i­ni­tions across dif­fer­ent coun­tries, par­tic­u­larly within trade poli­cies, trade agree­ments, and be­tween trade part­ners.

4. Adopt the def­i­ni­tions of each class of VRP and en­sure align­ment of these def­i­ni­tions within re­lated na­tional waste hi­er­ar­chy, waste man­age­ment, and other di­ver­sion pol­icy lan­guage.

5. Ex­pand ex­ist­ing 3R’s ap­proaches to in­te­grate VRPs along­side tra­di­tional re­cy­cling poli­cies, and po­si­tion VRPs as gate­way ac­tiv­i­ties to im­proved re­cy­cling.

6. En­gage­with­stake­hold­ers (pro­duc­ers, dis­trib­u­tors, sell­ers, cus­tomers, col­lec­tors, pol­i­cy­mak­ers, po­lit­i­cal lead­ers, re­search and ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions, etc.) to com­mu­ni­cate and en­sure clear un­der­stand­ing of these VRP de­i­ni­tions and the op­por­tu­ni­ties in­her­ent to ex­panded adop­tion of VRPs.

7. Es­tab­lish clear stan­dards and guide­lines for each class of VRP, which are ac­cepted by in­dus­try and gov­ern­ment, and which can be used to ef­fec­tively dif­fer­en­ti­ate VRPs and VRP prod­ucts from tra­di­tion­ally man­u­fac­tured op­tions.

8. Es­tab­lish re­view and com­pli­ance mech­a­nisms for de­fined VRP stan­dards and de­i­ni­tions to pre­vent mis­use of VRP prod­uct la­bel­ing in the mar­ket.

9. En­force VRP stan­dards and guide­lines with do­mes­tic VRP pro­duc­ers to en­sure that prac­tice in the mar­ket re­flects ac­cepted de­i­ni­tions and ex­pec­ta­tions.

10. Align the reg­u­la­tory treat­ment of val­i­dated re­man­u­fac­tured prod­ucts with the treat­ment of OEM New prod­ucts in both do­mes­tic and trade poli­cies. Val­i­dated re­man­u­fac­tured prod­ucts meet or ex­ceed the qual­ity and per­for­mance speci­ica­tions of OEM New prod­ucts and should thus be treated equally.

11. Lead-by-ex­am­ple by adopt­ing VRP-friendly pub­lic pro­cure­ment prac­tices and poli­cies to fa­cil­i­tate aware­ness, adop­tion, and stim­u­la­tion of do­mes­tic de­mand for VRP prod­ucts.

12. In­vest in ac­cel­er­ated VRP adop­tion and ca­pac­ity by pro­vid­ing fund­ing to VRP pro­duc­ers for R&D, cap­i­tal ac­qui­si­tions and work­force train­ing.

13. Im­ple­ment cus­tomer mar­ket ed­u­ca­tion and aware­ness cam­paigns to en­cour­age the ac­cep­tance of VRP prod­ucts and to strengthen the busi­ness-case for VRP pro­duc­ers.

14. En­cour­age par­tic­i­pa­tion in cir­cu­lar econ­omy and VRPs by in­vest­ing in ac­ces­si­ble and ef­fi­cient end-of-use (EOU) prod­uct col­lec­tion pro­grams and in­fra­struc­ture and re­strict­ing op­tions for EOU prod­ucts to be dis­posed into the en­vi­ron­ment (e.g. landill bans).

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