At its launch today, the Conseil Européen de Remanufacture (European Remanufacturing Council) announced its plans to represent companies which produce €30 billion of remanufactured products and employ 190,000 people across Europe. Its work programme, aimed at global institutions such as the UN, the OECD and the World Bank, aims to increase to 5% the proportion of manufactured output that achieves an extended life through remanufacturing. The current rate is a mere 2%. The unveiling of the programme looked much like any other until a last-minute plot twist.

Keynote speaker Walter Stahel, widely regarded as the “grand vizier” who first highlighted the resource savings that could be achieved by extending product life, wished the business-led Council every success. Dr Nancy Bocken from TU Delft presented results from the ERN (European Remanufacturing Network) project and acknowledged the funding support from the EU Horizon 2020 programme. The ERN network enabled researchers from across Europe to deliver a comprehensive market study designed to be directly comparable with one carried out in the USA. David Parker from Oakdene Hollins set out the recommendations from the ERN project partners – aimed at enabling faster growth in remanufacturing sales. The new Council will liaise with the research community in the ERN whilst welcoming member companies from the automotive, transport, imaging, and technology sectors. Other businesses, both large and small, were encouraged to join the Council to assist in building a new generation of remanufacturing innovators and advocates.

“Our ambition is to make remanufacturing a normal part of a product’s life cycle, but before that can happen we need to inspire a new, young generation. That’s why one of our strategies will be to promote the character of Rodney Copperbottom”
– Council Director David Fitzsimons

Fitzsimons revealed that he had been in contact with Jerry Davis, producer of the 2005 movie Robots, and with US-based Blue Sky Studios. For those not familiar with the animated Hollywood movie, Rodney Copperbottom is the teenage inventor who, outraged by the waste of the world’s resources, champions innovation and thoughtful manufacturing practices. Fighting against the ruthless business model imposed by a self-serving company president, he finally safeguards a lifetime supply of spare parts for robots threatened by inbuilt obsolescence.

In the meantime, companies joining the European Remanufacturing Council are being offered a DVD of the original Robots movie and a chance to be a part of something more animated than they may have expected.