Retaining product value in a circular economy
To facilitate the transition to a circular economy, and as part of the Government of Canada’s comprehensive zero plastic waste agenda and implementation of the Canada-wide Strategy and Action Plan on Zero Plastic Waste, we will develop a national strategy to encourage remanufacturing and other value-retention processes (VRPs) in Canada.
Remanufacturing and other value-retention processes in Canada
In our current economic system, often described as a “linear economy”, resources are extracted and transformed into products that are then disposed of once their useful life has ended. This can lead to an increased reliance on natural resources and an overabundance of waste, which represents a lost economic opportunity and can negatively impact our livelihoods, communities and the environment.
A circular economy moves away from this linear “take-make-dispose” approach by reducing waste in the first place, and by recovering waste or end-of-life products to send them back in the production chain to make new resources, thus creating loops in the circulation of materials and products.
Remanufacturing and other VRPs (including refurbishment, repair and reuse) are key activities of the circular economy. They help maintain a product in service or extend its useful life beyond its expected service life, while preserving its inherent value, helping to increase both economic and environmental sustainability and resilience.
The infographic, titled “Value-retention processes: Service Life – Linear economy vs circular economy”, depicts the different types of value-retention processes (VRPs).
As part of the linear economy:
- Products are typically used following a “take-make-dispose” approach
- At the end of its use, the product is disposed of and/or recycled. This sometimes happens before the product can reach the end of its expected service life.
As part of the circular economy:
- Value-retention processes help products reach the end of their expected life or extend it beyond what is expected.
- A product can be reused: at the end of its use, the product goes to another user so it can reach the end of its expected service life.
- A product can be repaired: at the end of its use, the product is repaired so it can reach the end of its expected service life.
- A product can be refurbished: at the end of its use, the product’s functionality is restored to partially renew or extend its service life. This can be done several times.
- A product can be remanufactured: at the end of its use, the product is restored/improved to match/exceed its original condition and performance through a standardized industrial process. This gives products a full new service life and maximizes product value-retention. This can be done several times.
Increasing remanufacturing and other VRPs in Canada can help to reduce the adverse environmental impacts of products (e.g. plastic and other waste, greenhouse gas emissions, resource extraction, etc.), while also generating significant socio-economic benefits for Canadians.
Advancing towards a National Strategy
Over the past few years, we have implemented several initiatives to support a transition to a more circular economy. In particular, we have developed a comprehensive and circular economy approach to meet its goal of zero plastic waste by 2030 and to keep plastics in the economy and out of the environment. We are taking ambitious action across the lifecycle of plastics to reduce waste in the first place and improve how we make, use and manage plastics to increase their value recovery and to tackle plastic pollution. As part of this agenda and the implementation of the Canada-wide strategy and action plan on zero plastic waste, the Government will develop a national strategy to encourage the remanufacturing of products and other VRPs in Canada.
The objectives of this strategy would be:
- reduce the quantity of products including plastic products sent to landfills
- increase the reuse of materials
- reduce greenhouse gas emissions and
- generate socio-economic benefits for Canadians
The key steps towards a national strategy are:
- socio-economic and environmental study on remanufacturing and other VRPs in Canada (full study and executive summary)
- discussion paper on the proposed approach to a national strategy
- draft strategy
- final strategy
Each of these steps will also be followed by a comment or consultation period for stakeholders and the public.
- Comments on the socio-economic and environmental study on remanufacturing and other VRPs in Canada were accepted until August 30, 2021.
- Remanufacturing: giving products multiple new lives
- Towards a circular economy: value-retention processes
- Towards zero plastic waste
- Canada-wide strategy and action plan on Zero Plastic Waste
- Circular Economy
- Managing and reducing waste
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