Disassembling for a Sustainable Future

In a world where the depletion of natural resources and the mounting burden of waste are pressing concerns, innovative approaches to recycling and waste management have become paramount. The whole set of actions to recover value from post-use products and materials are defined as "demanufacturing." Including traditional recycling, which often involves shredding and melting materials, demanufacturing focuses also on carefully disassembling products to recover valuable components and materials and to increase the separation yield and the overall process efficiency. This process represents the starting point of the circular economy model, reducing the strain on our environment and fostering sustainability.  

Understanding Demanufacturing

Demanufacturing can be considered the reverse of manufacturing. It involves the separation and dismantling of products into their constituent parts, which are then assessed, refurbished, or reused to create new products, and all recycling treatments. This process requires a high degree of precision and expertise, as the goal is to maximize the recovery of materials while minimizing irreversible damages and waste. The separation in components that can be reused or in materials that could be recycled in a proper way allows to increase the value, the quality and the purity of residuals, making their treatment easier and more efficient. By salvaging components like metals, plastics, and electronic parts, demanufacturing not only reduces the demand for raw materials but also curtails the need for energy-intensive extraction processes.

Numbers That Matter

The need for demanufacturing is underscored by staggering statistics related to waste and resource consumption. According to the European Environmental Agency (EEA), in 2020, the European Union generated approximately 502 million tons of waste, equivalent to 995 kilograms per person. Complex and multi-material products where the separation and extraction are difficult causes filling of landfills and the loss of high added value materials. On the other side, global demand for resources is projected to double by 2060 if current consumption patterns persist, placing immense strain on the planet's ecosystems. A circular approach that considers demanufacturing of End-of-Life products already in their design phase (e.g. using reversible connections, limiting the number of different materials, etc.) could strongly influence the future scenarios in a positive way.

DeremCo: concrete way for Demanufacturing

Addressing these challenges head-on is one of the objectives of DeremCo project, a pioneering initiative co-funded by the European Union, with the aim of unlocking the great potential of End-of-Life composite materials as new manufacturing sources. DeremCo aims to revolutionize the way we handle end-of-life wind turbines and also in general Glass Fiber Reinforced Plastic scraps from other sector (e.g. automotive, aeronautic) and promote the adoption and implementation of mechanical and thermal processes applied to composite materials to allow their reuse in new different applications.
Demanufacturing offers a compelling solution to the growing issue of waste and resource scarcity. Through projects like DeremCo, we're witnessing the tangible benefits of this approach, from conserving valuable materials to mitigating the ecological impact of consumerism. As we forge ahead into a more sustainable future, embracing demanufacturing could be a pivotal step toward achieving a circular economy and ensuring the well-being of our planet for generations to come.

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Bridging the Gap Between Research and Industry in Recycling Polymer Materials – DeremCo project’s participation in international conference