Motivation: finding the most efficient end of life management strategy

A label promoting recycling of products

Credits: Open source image


Nowadays, the concern for environmental issues related to waste management has motivated the development of new solutions in order to reduce the impacts caused by product disposal. Companies can develop solutions leading to efficient use of resources and the reduction of environmental impacts [1- 5]

In this context, there are several ways of recovering products that offer different levels of reuse which are referred to as End of Life Strategies. The aim of product recovery management is to generate economic values to the product disposal phase, while assuming environmental impact improvements.

End of life refers to the case when products are disposed after the use phase. Main reasons include deterioration, technological obsolescence, or simply perceived obsolescence from the customer point of view. [6-7]


Differences between the most common strategies for end of life products


Five-step waste hierarchy in the EU Directive 2008/98/EC (adapted after Zunft and Fröhlig, 2009), Credits:


After the first life cycle, it is possible to use products without any further renewal process. The products will have the same characteristics and no upgrade will be undertaken. It is not possible to offer the same warranty conditions in this frame. [7-8]


The components avoiding the product to function properly are replaced. No further testing is effectuated. The warranty is valid for a significantly shorter duration than for a new product, and only concerns the components replaced during repair. [5, 8-10]

Refurbishment/ Reconditioning

In this process, the product and its components are restored to similar functional conditions as for a new product. The warranty period offered is typically reduced and the product is sold at a lower price, as compared to new products. Often, the refurbishment process presents less quality management than typical new goods manufacturing. [5-6, 8-10]


Only concerns the process of transforming end of life products into raw material. Most frequently the obtained raw material is of lower quality than the newly extracted one, and is therefore valuated at a lower sales price. [5-7]


In the technological vocabulary, this term represents a widely used practice in the after-sales management. It aims at using dysfunctional products as a component source for the reparation of products within their warranty period. [5]


Remanufacturing: the ultimate form of recycling

Saving the encapsulated value in the EOL product components

Representation of the difference between used core and remanufactured product





During a highly qualitative process, the end of life products are disassembled, tested and reassembled.  This process allows their commercialization under the same warranty and quality than new product, at a lower price. [8, 11-13]

The remanufacturing process “is the process of restoring non-functioning, discarded, or traded-in products (cores) to like-new performance” [14]. Some authors use as synonyms the terms rebuilding, refurbishing, reconditioning or overhauling. It is part of the reverse logistic chain and is called “the ultimate form of recycling” [13].

It includes the following main processes: disassembly, cleaning & reconditioning, inspection, sorting and reassembly. Contrary to the classical way of material recycling, remanufacturing covers not just the material value but also the added knowledge, labor and energy value of the form and construction of the product, which was created in the development and production phase of the product.

By avoiding the shredder and sorting processes as well as creating amount of waste, the remanufacturing process has significant benefits from an ecological and economical advantage. It was shown that the process of remanufacturing saves up to 85% of the energy which would be needed to produce a new part out of raw material [15].


Contact for Germany

Technische Universität Berlin
Institut für Werkzeugmaschinen und Fabrikbetrieb
Pascalstr. 8-9, 10587 Berlin
Thomas Guidat: guidat[at]

Contact for Brazil

Universidade de Sao Paulo
Escola de Engenharia de São Carlos
Av. Trabalhador São-carlense, 400, Pq Arnold Schimidt
São Carlos - SP/Brasil, CEP 13566-590
Ana Paula Barquet: anabarquet[at]