Normally we focus on remanufacturing as it pertains to printers and ink, but it is also important from time to time to take a step back and examine the overall industry. The United States International Trade Commission (USITC) recently published a report which examined the state of the industry in the United States and worldwide. The report is entitled Remanufactured Goods: An Overview of the U.S. and Global Industries, Markets, and Trade”. They estimate the value of the market grew 15% from 2009 to 2011 and accounted for at least 180,000 jobs.
Interestingly enough while the report demonstrated that the United States and Europe remain the unquestioned majority of remanufacturing activities, countries located elsewhere are beginning to join in the movement. Trade of remanufactured goods between countries is still somewhat problematic. The report attributes this to “regulatory barriers, import bans and a lack of a common definition of what counts as remanufactured goods”. Perhaps in time, if remanufacturing efforts continue, BAN, ETIRA, and some of the other large organizations will be able to sit down and agree on common standards that can be applied worldwide.
As far as some of the data goes, the USITC found that although the remanufactured products only make up 0.5% of total IT product sales here in the United States, the market itself has grown a solid 17% from a $4.4 billion industry in 2009 to a $5.2 billion industry in 2011. Believers in the value of remanufacturing can also take heart in the fact “the IT remanufacturing industry in the US consists of thousands of firms, mostly SMBs, with fewer than 500 businesses employing more than 20 members of staff.” Of the firms in the industry, 2,000 of them deal with some type of printer cartridge remanufacturing. Employment has also seen a very respectable job growth rate to 15,500 in 2011, up from 11,500 in 2009. Industry representatives have suggested that it may be even higher.
Most firms (approx. 90%) that sell remanufactured goods also sell new products. The same cannot be said for companies that produce the materials themselves. That number is said by the USITC to be closer to 40%. They report also notes that most remanufactured products are made very close to the markets in which they are sold as compared towards new products which tend to be sold globally.
Lastly, the USITC discovered that while the annual investment in remanufacturing has risen 18% from 2009 to 2011, the actual number of products produced has not in fact changed that much. Further, the production capacity of 44% of these companies has not changed during the time span of the report.
While the situation is not exactly ideal as of yet, it does appear as though some traction is being made to get recognition for remanufacturing as a real industry.