6.3.1 The Resource Challenge: conclusion

Course subject(s) Module 6: Conclusion

In this module we will come back to the resource challenge and the possibilities of closing the economy cycles via the four options that we discussed throughout the course.

Ester van der Voet talks about the effect that reuse, repair, remanufacturing and recycle could have on the resource challenge.

Key points:

  • How the four re-options affect the resource challenges (resource scarcity, waste and environmental pressures)
      • Reuse refers to use of a product that otherwise would have been discarded. Each reused product saves the resources needed for a new product to be manufactured and minimizes the waste. The tradeoffs of the reuse are the energy needed for transportation and cleaning of the recused products, however, the reuse is the preferred option in an environmental point of view. Sharing and lead systems are another reuse option.
      • Repair increases the products service life and thus saves resources and avoids waste. However, the technological development of some products moves fast which makes the older products energy and water inefficient.
      • Remanufacturing does not just aim at keeping the product in use for longer but it also brings it to the modern standards of operation. This can only be done by remanufacturer with a change of the ownership. Remanufacturing saves raw materials and prevents waste generation but also requires transportation and appropriate infrastructure.
      • Recycling refers to materials and keeps then in use beyond the lifespan of products. Recycle saves resources, avoids waste and introduces energy use. However, in the case of complex products and low concentrations, one can experience difficulties.
  • It is important to note that the decisions for possibilities to implement the re-options need to be incorporated during the early stages of product design.
  • We have to understand that the Circular Economy requires many changes in the society, and remember that this economy does not necessarily save energy and GHG emission but leads to new business models, products and manufacturing processes that save energy and resources.
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