Remanufacturing is a key contributor to the circular economy. It prolongs the life and value of a product by recovering and reusing materials from retired products. While circular practices such as recycling programmes (hardware and consumables) and the use of post-consumer recycled (PCR) material are well established in the print industry, the remanufacturing of products is less widely adopted. With sustainability climbing the agenda, and supply chain disruption ongoing, should print manufacturers advance their remanufacturing strategies?
Print and imaging devices have various environmental impacts during manufacture, use, and disposal. These include raw material consumption; polluting in manufacturing; energy consumption in use; and waste generated during end-of-life disposal. However, through a mix of proactivity and response to regulations such as the WEEE Directive, the print industry has worked to embed sustainability principles. For companies at the vanguard of these efforts, this is paying dividends, as buyers become more scrupulous about the lifecycle impacts of the products they purchase.
Circularity in the Print Industry
A circular economy is an alternative to the traditional linear economy model of take-make-dispose. Circular practices reduce resource and energy use by extending the lifetime of products, components and materials. This keeps resources in use for as long as possible, extracting maximum value from them whilst in use, and then recovering or regenerating products and materials from them at the end of life.
Circularity is already well established in the print industry. Products are often designed to reduce environmental impact across their product lifecycle. Key elements include energy efficiency, reliability, repairability and recyclability. Recycling programmes for both hardware and consumables are widespread and in some cases recycling services enable print manufacturers to incorporate components and materials into new products.
Print manufacturers are also increasing the use of recovered materials, such as recycled and recyclable content into new products. For instance, according to HP’s Sustainable Impact 2021 report, HP’s goal is to use 30% post consumer recycled (PCR) content plastic across HP’s personal systems and print product portfolio by 2025. Meanwhile, Lexmark report that their goal is to increase the average post-consumer recycled content plastic in their printer models to 50% by 2025. In FY 21, Epson report that the company began sales of products that contain recycled materials and refurbished equipment.