Sustainability is an important topic on nearly all political agendas of the last two decades. Mainly about ways to reduce the pollution and stop the climate change through renewable energy or restrictions of productions or car use. Around 5 years ago a new wording has been developed by researches and therefore picked-up by the politics in the industrial world: “circle economy”.

What is “circle economy”?

The idea behind the circle economy is to give each product the opportunity of a second life. One important part of this is refurbishment, but the meaning of this term is going even further. In theory base each ingredient, which has been used for the production of a product, should be re-used. The result would be no waste. But how is that even possible? This of course would require also a re-thinking of the manufacturer as they have to produce products on a different way, so they can be easily re-used in the future. As always this new thinking of the manufacturer, who see in this process a risk to their business (i.e. customers purchase each 2 years a new phone with their mobile contract), needs to be pushed through the politics with new regulations and laws.

How does the politic “pushes” re-marketing/refurbishment?

It is not possible to answer this question on a global scale as there sadly is no worldwide regulation. Nevertheless some countries have already set-up first processes to support the re-marketing industry:

US: In some states the governmental institutions have to purchase their products from refurbishers (i.e. PCs in an administrative office).

Sweden: In Sweden the government has reduced the VAT rate on product repair services from 25% to 12%.

EU: Within the EU the EU-commission is currently working on an industry analysis to receive more insights about this industry and how it can be supported to grow.

Job creation

By an increase of refurbishing activities the unemployment rate would be reduced as for the refurbishing/repair process you need more employees than for waste management or the new production. This of course is also an important point for the politics to support the development of this industry.

It is estimated that for every 10.000 tonnes of waste:

  • 1 job can be created incinerated
  • 6 jobs if it is landfilled
  • 36 if it is recycled
  • 296 if it is re-used/refurbished