EC calls for reuse and remanufacturing ideas
The European Commission has launched a €143-million (£112-million) call for research projects that investigate reuse and remanufacturing, in a bid to develop the ‘factories of the future’.
The Research & Innovation project, ‘Factories of the Future’, seeks to explore ‘reuse and remanufacturing technologies and equipment for sustainable product lifecycle management’ to reduce the EU’s environmental footprint and increase resource efficiency.
‘Saving time, money, energy, and resources’
The call has been launched as the EC believes that to increase the competitiveness of EU industry and reduce its environmental footprint, manufacturing industries should ‘develop innovative technologies and approaches to manufacture added-value products with fewer resources’ and ‘ensure a sustainable product lifecycle based on reuse and remanufacturing methods and technologies’.
It highlights that technological products, such as electronics, medical devices and energy and transport devices are currently made of ‘advanced materials’ (such as nanomaterials) that are, at present, poorly recovered and reused.
Therefore, it states that there is a need for new product design approaches (including in-built product ‘smartness’) that use resources more efficiently and can be reused or easily broken down for recycling.
Indeed, the EC states that by aiding the extraction of resources and working components of end-of-life products, creating longer lifespan products, and promoting reuse, business would ‘save time, money, energy, and resources’.
The call for business plans launched last week (22 October) for multi-disciplinary research projects that address all of the following areas:
- ‘eco-innovative approaches for product design’ that take into account reuse and remanufacturing for ‘product recovery and spare parts/services support’;
- manufacturing and equipment concepts for reuse and remanufacturing that improve resource efficiency and service lifetime;
- technologies and automation solutions for ‘the effective disassembly/separation and recovery of advanced materials’; and
- generation and validation of new business models to ‘improve the economic viability of closed-loop lifecycles which make use of the systemic approaches for product lifecycle management’.
The EC has stated that it expects projects to request funding of €3 - 6 million (£2.3 - 4.7 million) as this ‘would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately’; however, it will accept proposals requesting other amounts.
It added that the project would be particularly suitable for intelligent manufacturing systems (IMS) partnerships that involve collaboration between member regions of the European Union, the United States of America, Mexico and the EFTA state of Norway.
The EC estimates that the successful projects could help deliver:
- a ‘significant reduction’ of energy consumption in manufacturing activities by 2020;
- a ‘significant reduction’ in non-renewable materials;
- a minimum 20 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases emissions from manufacturing activities;
- a minimum 10 per cent reduction in waste generation;
- a minimum 20 per cent increase in productivity rates; and
- possibilities for ‘new, safe and sustainable jobs creation’.
Submissions will be accepted until 4 February 2015.
Find out more about the Factories for the Future call.