An Investigation into the Environmental Impact of Product Recovery Methods to Support Sustainable Manufacturing within Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs)

An Investigation into the Environmental Impact of Product Recovery Methods to Support Sustainable Manufacturing within Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs)

Michaela R. Appleby (Lancaster University, UK), Chris G. Lambert (Lancaster University, UK), Allan E. W. Rennie (Lancaster University, UK) and Adam B. Buckley (The Manufacturing Institute, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1867-1.ch004
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Abstract

The effects of climate change and government legislation has changed the way in which manufacturers can dispose of their waste, encouraging SMEs to source alternative disposal methods such as those indicated in the waste hierarchy. It is economically and environmentally beneficial to use product recovery methods to divert waste from landfill. The environmental impact of two product recovery methods, remanufacturing and repairing, has been compared via a carbon footprint calculation for a UK-based SME. The calculation has identified that repairing has a lower carbon footprint than remanufacturing, however this only extends the original life-cycle of the product, whereas remanufacturing provides a new life-cycle and warranty, and therefore seen as the most preferable method of product recovery to support sustainable manufacturing.
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The Uk Manufacturing Industry

The UK manufacturing industry remains the sixth largest manufacturing nation worldwide, contributing £150 billion annually to the economy, despite recent diversion from traditional operations to technology driven high-value operations, such as aerospace and nano-technology (Gregory, Prisk, Lucas, & Thurso, 2009). However, the industry is under intense pressure to reduce its environmental impact from increasing government legislation, environmental demands from market force and customer preference, and economic factors related to rising energy prices, diminishing natural resources and growing demand for raw materials. Therefore, manufacturers are being encouraged to implement sustainable manufacturing techniques (Patton & Worthington, 2003) and manage sustainable solutions to face the challenges posed by climate change.

The key objective behind sustainable manufacturing techniques is to ensure processes and products associated with the industry are more environmentally friendly by reducing energy and material consumption during manufacture, decreasing the use of natural resources, eliminating waste wherever possible, and simplifying product design for efficient manufacture, use and disposal. Allwood (2005) defines sustainable manufacturing as “developing technologies to transform materials without emissions of greenhouse gases, use of non-renewable or toxic materials or generation of waste.” However, there needs to be continuous management of the whole life-cycle of a product, from the initial extraction of raw materials, manufacturing processes, transport, usage and end-of-life (EOL) disposal, to ensure the success of sustainable manufacturing (Hu & Bidanda, 2009). This article investigates waste management within a small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) in the manufacturing sector, focusing on EOL product recovery methods and the related environmental impacts, in order to support sustainable manufacturing.

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