Used products have been widely recycled for numerous years on a worldwide scale, above all in the automotive industry. Rebuilt, reconditioned, remanufactured, refurbished or whatever you prefer to call them, the parts and components bearing these names have all been entirely restored to their original conditions using highly advanced technological and industrial production processes.
HOW IS IT DONE? - The results are products that guarantee exactly the same performance as their newly manufactured counterparts. It all begins with a batch of a few hundred identical units that are no longer functioning. These units are disassembled down to their individual components, each of which are tested and selected in order to determine which can be reused (after a thorough cleaning and efficiency check) and which will have to be replaced. This process is followed by the re-assembly and final testing stage. These two final operations are identical to those which are carried out for the production of new units, thus ensuring maximum reliability.
SINCE 1940 - It all began in the United States around the year 1940. Due to a shortage in raw materials caused by the war, the Allied came to believe that the practice of remanufacturing would extend the service life of components that were no longer working properly and would reduce the need to produce new ones, thus resulting in considerable savings in materials like iron and copper, which were becoming increasingly difficult to come by. In Europe, Volkswagen began recycling after the war due to the general shortage in raw materials, as well as the high volumes of materials available to be recovered from damaged war equipment. In fact, Volkswagen remains Europe's leader remanufacturer of automotive components, followed by Bosch and Valeo, both of which began much later, during the 70s, with their ranges of starter motors and alternators. Bosch currently offers over 25 different product lines, with over 1.5 million units recycled per year, and is recognized as one of the most active producers of remanufactured parts in Europe, second only to Volkswagen itself.
NEW FRONTIERS - New legislation, even at a municipal level, has increased the consumer's awareness of the significant role that environmental protection will play in the future. Remanufacturing is a process that involves the re-use of raw materials, and offers excellent possibilities for application within other fields as well. Mobile phones and computers, dishwashers and vacuum cleaners, photocopiers and televisions: already today, each of these products can be sent back to the factory in order to be subjected to a rejuvenation process, after which they can be resold on the market at discounted prices and complete with warranties. This even applies to highly sophisticated machinery like CAT scan equipment, excavators and railway locomotives. In a letter written to La Repubblica from New York, Federico Rampini estimated the value of the "remanufactured" products placed on the market each year at approximately 100 billion dollars, with nearly half a million individuals involved in the recovery work. The names of the companies involved are also of primary importance, as they include General Motors, General Electric, Xerox, Kodak and Caterpillar. In particular, General Electric appears to have gained such credibility amongst American hospitals that last year it sold 1,500 reconditioned ultrasound units, an increase of 10% with respect to the previous year.
A CLEANER ENVIRONMENT - The possibility of marketing units that have been restored to maximum efficiency at just over half the price of new ones is attracting the attention of the U.S. government, not only because it reduces inflation, but also because it reduces the environmental risks associated with the accumulation of materials that are difficult to dispose of in landfills, and likewise reduces the demand for fresh raw materials, such as copper, steel and oil, the prices of which are currently skyrocketing. On a global scale, the recycling of used products results in an energy savings equivalent to 350 tankers loaded with crude oil, or 8 nuclear power plants. Not only that, it even provides for a reduction in raw material consumption equivalent to a fully loaded train of 3 km in length.
NUMBERS THAT SPEAK - In 2015 in Europe, remanufacturing was worth 30 billion euros and, according to estimates by the European Remanufacturing Network (Ern), will reach 100 billion in 2030. Already today, in the United States, it has reached about 100 billion dollars. The automotive remanufacturing sector has a thousand companies around the world and employs around 200,000 workers. This enormous development took place before our eyes without realizing it. Probably on our precious and beloved car still under warranty, the house replaces inefficient parts with as many regenerated without our knowledge. Not bad, as we have seen. The future development of the regenerated also depends on the removal of our prejudices. When we get on an airliner or a charter that looks new to us, we certainly don't know that most of the time our life is entrusted to an aircraft brought back to the factory and rebuilt from scratch