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Reducing waste: repair, recondition, remanufacture or recycle?

King, Andrew M. and Burgess, Stuart C. and Ijomah, W. and McMahon, Chris A. (2005) Reducing waste: repair, recondition, remanufacture or recycle? Sustainable Development, 14 (4). pp. 257-267. ISSN 0968-0802

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Abstract

Between 1980 and 1997, municipal waste in OECD countries increased by around 40%. This paper outlines the very real negative effects of this increase and then introduces the two main European Union policies that have been established to address this problem: a landfill directive and legislation on extended producer responsibility (EPR). The paper then describes and compares the four alternative strategies to reducing end-of-life waste within the context of extended producer responsibility: namely repairing, reconditioning, remanufacturing or recycling. It also introduces a more robust definition of remanufacturing, validated by earlier research, which differentiates it from repair and reconditioning. From a consideration of the different factors involved, it concludes that remanufacturing may well be the best strategy. This is because it enables the embodied energy of virgin production to be maintained, preserves the intrinsic added value of the product for the manufacturer and enables the resultant products to be sold as new with updated features if necessary.