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China stresses remanufacturing in developing circular economy

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HANGZHOU, April 20 (Xinhua) -- China is seeking to expand its remanufacturing industry over the next five years in its general plan to boost the development of a recycling-based economy, a senior government official said Wednesday.

Xie Zhenhua, vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China's top economic planning body, said the ministry would work with other departments to clarify the development targets of the remanufacturing industry, and promote the sector's healthy and fast growth during the country's 12th Five-Year-Plan Period (2011-2015).

"The NDRC is now drafting a series of plans concerning the development of the country's circular economy, the emerging industries of strategic importance, energy savings, and environmental protection. These plans all look at remanufacturing as an important element," Xie said at an international remanufacturing forum held Wednesday in Hangzhou, capital of east China's Zhejiang Province.

Xie said the development of the remanufacturing industry will have strategic significance to China as it better utilizes resources and creates higher values.

"Take a vehicle engine, for example, it weighs 500 kilos, if it is recycled as waste steel, its value is only worth about 1,000 yuan (about (about 151 U.S. dollars). But if the engine is remanufactured, it will be worth no less than 30,000 yuan," Xie said.

He said that by the end of last year China had more than 80 million motor vehicles in use, while major construction machinery topped well over 3 million units.

Based on this, Xie said the country's remanufacturing economy was expected to hit 40 billion yuan if remanufactured products took up only a 5-percent market share.

Currently, the country's remanufacturing companies mainly focus on vehicle engines, gear boxes, steering gear and electric generators, with the combined annual industrial output value estimated at 2 billion yuan.

Xu Binshi, an academician with the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said remanufacturing, which originated from Europe and the U.S., saves energy and resources, and protects the environment.

"By using a wide variety of advanced technologies, we can extract the most possible value from worn parts or wasted resources, and the remanufactured products will be equal to new ones, but only cost about half as much," Xu said.

"Compared with making new products, remanufacturing is estimated to save energy by 60 percent, and raw materials by 70 percent. It also substantially reduces air pollutants," Xie said, adding that remanufacturing would be vital to the nation's efforts in achieving its energy saving and carbon emission reduction targets.

During the next five years, the NDRC will strengthen support for pilot enterprises in car components remanufacturing, and advance the remanufacturing of construction machinery and the renovation of large tires.

It will also take measures to promote qualified remanufactured products and boost recycling, Xie said.

As remanufacturing requires support from other sectors such as professional recycling, disassembling and cleaning, the country would consider the construction of industrial bases to concentrate related sectors.

Xie said the country would also enhance the role of research institutions and companies in pushing forward technological innovation in the remanufacturing sector. The government also mulled over a plan to establish a remanufacturing research center.

"The NDRC will work with other government departments in drafting a category for remanufactured products," said Xie, who failed to give a timetable for doing so.

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