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Industrial servicing tackles throwaway culture by focusing on circular economics

Circular economics is going to be a key focus for global businesses in 2024, according to the President of ABB Electrification Service, Stuart Thompson. 

Companies are taking a circular approach that supplants our throwaway culture by prioritizing – among other factors – the life-cycle management, lifetime extension, circular design and reuse and recycling of products.  

And this is where modern day industrial servicing is proving to be key to delivering this shift in strategy.

As a leading authority in electrical infrastructure, operational asset management and digital innovations, ABB Electrification Service has been at the forefront of championing a transformative approach to extend the life of power distribution assets and curtail life cycle emissions for improved availability, reliability, predictability and sustainability of electrical installations.  

Stuart explains: “A circular economy tackles industrial throwaway culture using the principles of long lasting design that minimizes pollution by keeping products and materials in use for as long as possible, and reducing resource dependency. This approach is particularly useful in extending the life of power distribution assets, which, when maintained, upgraded, and eventually decommissioned effectively, can deliver significant cost savings and help to minimize environmental impact by reducing emissions.”

There are several factors at play driving this change: regulatory, economic and competitiveness. For example, running equipment to the point of failure may cost up to 10 times more than investing in a program of regular maintenance.  Likewise, there are increasing opportunities and incentives for businesses to decarbonize, such as the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) from the EU and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), providing incentives for clean energy in the US.

For businesses to remain competitive and to be considered an approved supplier they are also having to be transparent and demonstrate the footprint their products have on the environment with independently validated Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs). 

ABB Electrification Service understands the circularity concept can be overwhelming for many businesses and in response has created a handy guide to ‘Tackling Throwaway Culture’.  It offers a range of practical ideas for implementing circularity in asset management, from optimizing predictive maintenance and condition monitoring to adopting a ‘component-only’ approach to retrofitting and upgrades.  The guide also covers decommissioning of systems, responsible end-of-life disposal and future market developments in the circular asset management space.

Stuart adds: “Using circular economics to avoid operational emissions with circularity is an increasingly popular way of doing business sustainably for those managing power distribution assets.  Thanks to advancements in technology and a more granular understanding of the role industries must play in circular economics, there is now a wealth of tools and techniques to make circularity easier to achieve.

“Our guide covers these and gives customer examples that demonstrates them in action.”