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ISRI’s Design for Recycling Position to REMADE

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

In many ways, REMADE embodies ISRI’s four Design for Recycling® (DfR) principles—(1) Making Consumer Products Recyclable; (2) Reduce Environmental Risks; (3) Control Special Environmental Problems; and (4) Assist Manufacturers of Consumer Durables, especially the fourth principle (e.g., DOE matching funds)—to make consumer durables more recyclable and safer to recycle. ISRI’s involvement in REMADE, and before that with DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory (INL) and Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO), was no accident and years in the (re)making. ISRI expects that REMADE will be very beneficial to the recycling industry.

Under DOE’s AMO, as part of the Manufacturing USA initiative, the REMADE Institute is a national coalition of leading universities and companies that will forge new clean energy initiatives deemed critical in keeping U.S. manufacturing competitive. In a highly competitive selection process, DOE awarded leadership of REMADE to RIT’s team, the Sustainable Manufacturing Innovation Alliance (SMIA), based on the strength of SMIA’s REMADE proposal, led by Dr. Nabil Nasr, RIT Associate Provost and Director of the Golisano Institute for Sustainability (GIS). As REMADE Leader, SMIA will leverage up to $70 million in federal funding (see fourth DfR principle) that will be matched by $70 million in private cost-share commitments from industry and other consortium members, including 85 partners. In all, 26 universities, 44 companies, seven national labs, 26 industry trade associations and foundations, and three states (New York, Colorado, and Utah) are engaged in REMADE. ISRI is a REMADE Member and proud of its role in helping to shape REMADE and assisting SMIA in its winning proposal.

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. REMADE aims to achieve a 50-percent improvement in overall material energy efficiency by 2027. These efficiency improvements could save billions of dollars in energy costs, improve U.S. economic competitiveness through innovative new manufacturing techniques and small business opportunities, and offer new training and jobs for American workers. REMADE 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; and

•     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 INL to make a presentation on the recycling industry 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 to present and participate in the initial R4-I Workshop. 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. This led to an initial R4-I whitepaper. 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 variously named and sponsored workshops in 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 issued a request for proposals on its Funding Opportunity Announcement for the REMADE Institute to “enable the development and widespread deployment of key industrial platform technologies that will dramatically reduce life-cycle energy consumption and carbon emissions associated with industrial-scale materials production and processing through the development of technologies for reuse, recycling, and remanufacturing of materials.” ISRI was soon invited and accepted the invitation to join RIT’s team, SMIA. ISRI met with other SMIA members in 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. Evidently, 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. As we say in government relations, “it is better to have a seat at the table than to be on the menu.” ISRI has a seat at the REMADE table.

Being so new, the REMADE Institute is currently getting its organizational structure set up to ensure operational readiness in finance, contracting, staffing etc. 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). ISRI will keep ISRI members informed about REMADE activities and opportunities for involvement in REMADE projects.

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