RemanWorldMagazine - DIGITALEUROPE Pushes For Remanufacturing
The real value of remanufacturing
Today’s linear approach of growth is not sustainable. In a world with an ever-growing population it is no longer possible to rely on the “take, make, and throw away approach”. A circular economy is the answer to this challenge. The digital industry strongly supports moves to implement circular economy practices and thinking and has already taken various steps to advance this transition.
Having operated at the forefront country of digitalisation for more than a decade, DIGITALEUROPE, the influential association representing the digital tech industry in Europe, sees remanufacturing as an important component of its remit – and its new Director General is committed to supporting remanufacturing accordingly.
“There’s no doubt that remanufacturing and other segments within the whole area of sustainability are of growing importance to the way society is developing,” Cecilia Bonefeld-Dahl said in a conversation with Reman World. “One of our tasks is to make sure that the potential of the reuse, repair, refurbishment and re-manufacturing business of the ICT industry to the Circular Economy is recognized. This is important for the environment, for jobs and for the nations and regions of Europe.”
Appointed Director General of DIGITAL- EUROPE in April, Bonefeld-Dahl brings to her new position deep insights into the digitalisation of business and society which she gained from a 20-year career at the highest levels of the IT industry in her home country, Denmark, and on the international scene.
After holding executive positions for Cap Gemini, Oracle and IBM, Bonefeld-Dahl supported small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) building business in Europe and China and ran her own IT company. In addition, she has served as board member or chairman of professional and public bodies, including the chairmanship of the Danish IT industry’s trade association and the Danish Government’s Export Council.
ten-fold increase in CO2 saving related to manufacturing between 2003 and 2009
Those who know her well see her as theperfect match for maximising the influencein Brussels and across EU of DIGITAL- EUROPE and pushing the association forward. The Brussels-based organisation represents 25,000 digital companies of all sizes across Europe, including more than 60 world-class corporate members and almost 40 national trade associations.
“Digital has become the main driver for growth, and the ongoing digital transfor- mation affects all industrial sectors” Bonefeld-Dahl said. “Politicians and policy-makers in Brussels and across Europe have now realised that an unfragmented digital single market in Europe is the condition to ensure innovation, prosperity, jobs and growth in Europe – and we are committed to working closely with them to ensure it happens.”
Bonefeld-Dahl is fully aware of the impor- tance and scale of the mission. The coming decade will determine whether Europe with its multitude of nations, people, regions, aspirations and widely diverse business sectors will be able to compete with the giants of the United States, China and South-East Asia. So far, she believes, Europe is failing to match its competitors in terms of IT, management skills and, indeed, vision. So something has to be done.
“This is the case in traditional industries as well as within the IT industry,” she warned. “We have fallen behind in educating SME business leaders, young people, the general public and the politicians about what the future demands and offers in terms of ITchallenges. We face a huge task in definingwhat digital growth in Europe requires in terms of politics and legislative work. Over the next ten years, providing information and training across a whole range of issues will be extremely important.”
“Let’s not forget, that because digital has no borders, EU legislation cannot create borders either,” she added. “For European SMEs to grow, they must be able to operate in an unfragmented market with the right policy conditions. Otherwise, they will move elsewhere. Fortunately we see,that many of the firms that in recent yearsmoved their operations out of Europe are now returning. We must ensure that theycontinue to see the benefits of being here.I believe that the EU Commission under- stands all this. But it’s an ongoing task. In some ways I think our task is to bring the real world to Brussels.”
New Remain Report
DIGITALEUROPE’s recognition of remanu- facturing was recently demonstrated when the association published a new paper on remanufacturing, “The contribution of the Digital Industry to repair, remanufacturing and refurbishment in the circular economy”. The paper highlighted the sector’s growing contribution to job creation in Europe in line with circular economy thinking.
“With the circular economy being high on the political agenda, we discovered there is little to no knowledge on repair/refurbishment and remanufacturing activities and facilities or networks of the ICT (Information and Communication Technology). The aim of the paper was to describe long-standing business practices in the ICT sector which represent, next to waste collection and treatment facilities, the circular economy backbone of the ICT industry in Europe,” the report says.
“Policy makers need to be aware of existing practices when regulating and take them into consideration. For instance, it is important to distinguish the repair/refurbishment of used products from waste. Repair needs to be price competitive, which is why repair of ICT products is regionally concentrated. Shipment of waste and in particular hazardous waste is more costly than used goods which is why the distinction between used goods and waste is very important.”
“We also want to demonstrate that repair, refurbishment and remanufacturing activities represent a well-functioning commercial market,” the paper states. “Calls from some policymakers and stake- holders to limit instruction manuals, technical information, spare parts or equipment or software required for the re-use of product available free of charge to anyone goes against intellectual property rights and endangers the described existing repair/refurbishments facilities and networks.”
Commercial and environmental benefits“Remanufacturing is a circular economybest practice as its benefits are bothcommercial and environmental. It prolongs the life and value of a product and reduces the need for new materials. It provides options to avoid or postpone recycling and makes the best use of resources that have gone into the production of a product. CO2savings related to remanufacturing have increased 10-fold (across sectors) between 2003 and 2009. It provides a new commer- cial life for used equipment, ensures collection of older ICT equipment, delivers the same or better warranty as new products, and ultimately supports the creation of local jobs.”