Reprocessing of used goods - A strategy of sustainability and ist impact on the supply chain of a "factory of tomorrow"

Objective is to improve the competitiveness of reprocessing-activities as strategies towards higher resource productivity.The study will analyse the changes of the supply chain necessary to achieve this beyond the Point of Sale with regard to the re-integration of used goods in the supply chain.

Short Description




The objective of this project is to strengthen the competitiveness of REPROCESSING-activities as a strategy to increase the sustainability of the economy, including a higher resource efficiency. A second aim is to show the need for key technologies in order to re-integrate used goods into the supply chain. Significant improvements and positive impacts for the ‘Fabrik der Zukunft' can be expected from an analysis of the supply chains beyond the point of sale, or P.O.S., that is the utilization and remanufacturing/ reprocessing phase.

The main parts of the project are the in-depth analysis of 6 European case studies and a REPROCESSING conference in Vienna to verify the findings of the case studies.

The case studies enabled to demonstrate to what extent REPROCESSING activities contribute to a higher Sustainability:

  • Economic impacts: REPROCESSING - technologies save money and open up new service markets - the remanufacturing of goods can reduce costs by up to 50 per cent,
  • Environmental impacts: REPROCESSING - activities considerably extend the utilization period of goods, increasing the resource efficiency by up to 90 per cent !
  • Social impacts: REPROCESSING - activities are dominantly based on (local) services and create to a large extent regional added value and jobs!

These advantages are strengthened by an exploitation of the innovative potential of REPROCESSING networks in areas such as customer and consumer behaviour, innovative marketing strategies, plant engineering plant maintenance, new forms of cooperation and organisation.

These chances and opportunities, and also the related risks, obstacles and constraints, were presented at the conference and discussed with a broad professional audience. The REPROCESSING - conference was designed both to publicise REPROCESSING as a sustainability strategy and to further develop solutions and measures allowing to increase the competitiveness of this strategy.

The conference combined lectures, poster sessions and an Open Space Technology Meeting. This novel approach addressed the participants expertise with lectures, best-practice examples and case studies as well as their experience, fantasy, awareness, responsibility and creativity with exploring and discussing actual problems and generating further steps. Thus, the intermediary project-results were specified, completed and verified. This approach also allowed the research team to draw a substantial list of further activities, and for some of them to identify the related experts or organisation.

Based on the analysis of the case studies and the results of the conference, three business models were developed and described by a catalogue of eleven criteria. As a next step, the corresponding logistical specifications were deducted and the different levels of logistics development formulated, from the supply chain of a linear industrial economy to the value added network of a service economy based on a fleet management of goods in a lake economy.

Product-service-systems are the REPROCESSING - business model with the highest competitiveness and resource efficiency. The two other business models correspond to the development steps from product oriented to service oriented solutions and also promote sustainability.

The following recommendations are based on the conclusions of the research:

  • The broad innovation potential of REPROCESSING - solutions in technical as well as non technical fields in Austria is underdeveloped and should be better exploited,
  • Many potential markets could be developed using the innovative business models described,
  • Concrete examples show that the competitiveness of REPROCESSING - solutions are restricted by the present framework conditions.

Project Partners

Project management

Dr. Renate Hübner
Obere Donaustraße 71, A-1020 Wien
Tel.: +43 (1) 2145600-42
Fax: +43 (1) 2145616

Project collaborators

  • Dipl.-Ing. Stefan Melnitzky
  • Birgit Wendelin
  • Mag. Monika Himpelmann

Co-operation partners

  • Dipl.-Ing. Walter R. Stahel, IPF Genf
    PO Box 3632, CH 1211 Genf 3
  • Univ. Prof. Dr. Dipl.-Ing. Heinz Hübner Hasengasse 24, 1100 Wien