Remanufacturing is an environmentally and economically sound process to achieve many of the goals of sustainable development. Remanufacturing closes the materials cycle, and provides the basis for supply chains for product recovery and re-use. It focuses on value-added recovery, rather than just materials recovery, that is, recycling. By one estimate, there are more than 73 000 firms engaged in remanufacturing in the USA directly employing over 350000 people (Lund 1983). Total sales are in excess of $53 billion per year (USEPA 1997c). The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cites remanufacturing as an integral foundation of re-use activities for its lower energy consumption and reduced waste generation. Remanufacturing has been described as
... an industrial process in which worn out products are restored to like-new condition. Through a series of industrial processes in a factory environment, a discarded product is completely disassembled. Useable parts are cleaned, refurbished, and put into inventory. Then the new product is reassembled from the old and, where necessary, new parts to produce a unit fully equivalent -and sometimes superior - in performance and expected lifetime to the original new product. (Lund 1983)
It is distinctly different from repair operations, since a product is completely disassembled and all parts are returned to as new condition, which may require cosmetic operations (further differences are discussed fully in later sections).
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