The term ‘Circular Economy’ has been discussed widely in the media over the last few years. The Ellen MacArthur foundation, a charity set up by the former British sailor in 2010, is dedicated to working with business and education to ‘accelerate the transition to a circular economy’. Even The Guardian has a dedicated ‘Circular Economy Hub’ which focuses solely on the topic.
But what exactly is the Circular Economy?
According to Green Alliance the circular economy;
‘captures materials so that today’s goods are remanufactured or reused to become tomorrow’s goods, rather than landfill.’
Continuing to overuse the world’s natural resources is going to have a major environmental and economic impact on society. The Government and businesses are now being encouraged to embrace the Circular Economy in order for us to have a much more sustainable and secure economy.
Refurbishing in the Circular Economy
Refurbishing or remanufacturing is a key element to the circular economy. The process of remanufacturing ensures existing products are returned to ‘like-new’ or a better performing condition with an appropriate accompanying warranty.
The All-party Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group has recently produced a report entitled ‘Remanufacturing towards a resource efficient economy’. The report estimates that the ‘value of remanufacturing in the UK is £2.4 billion, with potential to increase to £5.6 billion alongside the creation of thousands of skilled jobs.’
The remanufacturing process is a cost effective one when compared with manufacturing new products. The cost savings are then passed on to the buyer with remanufactured products costing considerably less than a new equivalent. These products are built to the same, if not better, quality as their brand new counterparts, and typically come with extended warranty periods.
The environmental benefits of remanufacturing are also substantial. The process reduces carbon emissions as it is less energy intensive and uses far less raw materials when compared with the manufacture of new products. The Fraunhofer Institute in Germany have completed studies which estimate that the energy savings by worldwide remanufacturing is the equivalent to the electricity generated by five nuclear power stations.
The remanufacturing of power and distribution equipment has been going on for decades by many UK engineering companies. At Slaters we have been remanufacturing since the beginning of our company in 1946, and it is still the core of our business today. In our industry it is often referred to as ‘re-engineering’, ‘reconditioning’ or ‘refurbishment’, but no matter the term remanufactured transformers and switchgear are an economic, eco-friendly and efficient option for the customer.
In addition to the economic and environmental benefits, choosing to purchase remanufactured power and distribution equipment can also be an extremely efficient solution. Lead times can be a matter of weeks rather than months, and remanufactured units can often be integrated into existing site networks reducing downtime, labour costs and changeover disruption.