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  • Leadership Update

ISRI Helps Land Federal Funds to Improve Recycling Technologies in Manufacturing

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently selected the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) to lead its new Reducing Embodied-Energy and Decreasing Emissions (REMADE) Institute.

ISRI is a member of RIT’s team, the Sustainable Manufacturing Innovation Alliance (SMIA), and participated in the development of SMIA’s winning REMADE proposal, led by Dr. Nabil Nasr, RIT Associate Provost and Director of the Golisano Institute for Sustainability (GIS). In many ways, REMADE embodies ISRI’s four Design for Recycling® (DfR) principles—(1) Making Consumer Products Recyclable; (2) Reducing Environmental Risks; (3) Controlling Special Environmental Problems; and (4) Assistance to Manufacturers of Consumer Durables, especially the fourth principle (e.g., DOE matching funds)—to make consumer durables more recyclable and safer to recycle.

REMADE will focus its efforts on driving down the cost of technologies essential to reuse, recycle and remanufacture materials such as metals, fibers, polymers and used electronics and has the following five-year goals:

•     5 to 10 percent improvement in manufacturing material efficiency

•     50 percent increase in remanufacturing applications

•     30 percent increase in efficiency of remanufacturing operations

•     30 percent increase in recycling efficiencies

•     A targeted 50 percent increase in sales for the U.S. manufacturing industry to $21.5 billion and the creation of a next-generation recycling and manufacturing workforce.

REMADE’s focus and five-year goals did not happen by chance. In summer 2013, ISRI was invited by DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory (INL) to participate in a kickoff workshop for a newly conceived Institute for Recovery, Recycling, Reuse, and Remanufacturing (R4-I). Recognizing the opportunities within the R4-I concept for recycling thought-leadership and promotion of DfR, ISRI accepted the invitation. In September 2013, ISRI and other stakeholder participants spent two days in a small Denver airport hotel trying to define more precisely the recycling and related sustainability problems that R4-I could address as a public-private partnership involving INL and other federal labs and institutions. As the R4-I concept gained traction over time, its name and scope evolved into the Reducing Embodied-Energy and Decreasing Emissions (REMADE) Institute under DOE’s AMO and as part of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) (aka Manufacturing USA). ISRI participated in subsequent related workshops November 2014, January 2016, and June 2016 to further refine the problem statements, concepts, and goals for the future REMADE.

Later in June 2016, DOE announced a $70 million funding opportunity for the REMADE Institute and requested proposals for operating REMADE. ISRI was soon invited and accepted the invitation to join RIT’s team, SMIA. ISRI met with other SMIA members late August 2016 for two days in Denver, Colorado to work on and fine tune SMIA’s REMADE proposal ahead of the late September 2016 submission deadline. SMIA’s proposal was strong enough to overcome the competing proposals to earn the opportunity to lead the REMADE Institute.

ISRI’s membership in the REMADE leadership team reflects the success of ISRI’s patient investment over three years to participate in the national technical conversation about the importance of recycling, including the role of DfR, in sustainable manufacturing. REMADE holds the promise of providing benefits and opportunities for the recycling industry over its initial five-year period of federal matching funds ($14 million annually as a match to at least $14 million annually from SMIA’s 85+ Members).

Being so new, the REMADE Institute is currently getting its organizational structure set up to ensure operational readiness in finance, contracting, staffing etc. ISRI will keep ISRI members informed about REMADE activities and opportunities for involvement in REMADE projects. For more information about REMADE, please contact David Wagger, Chief Scientist/Director of Environmental Management, at (202) 662-8533.

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