Economic and Environmental Assessment of Automotive Remanufacturing: Alternator Case Study
Remanufacturing is a process that restores old products to perform like new, while saving energy, reducing consumption of natural resources, and lowering environmental emissions. By extending the product life cycle, remanufacturing approaches enable closed loop material cycles that are ultimately necessary for a sustainable society. This paper provides some description of the current automotive remanufacturing enterprise, with a particular emphasis on key vehicle components that are currently remanufactured. The analysis yields two major conclusions. First, market price of a remanufactured component in the automotive sector is surprisingly uncorrelated with the number of companies engaged in remanufacturing that component – at least for companies registered with the Automotive Parts Remanufacturing Association (ARPA). Second, and less surprisingly, we find that remanufacturing reduces environmental burden significantly over new production. This improvement, for the case of the alternator used as a case study, can easily exceed one order of magnitude in the categories of material use, energy consumption, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that are considered here.