Remanufactured mechanical products with high-added value are generally claimed to gain environmental benefits. These claims were made based on different products and assessment methodologies. The variability of life cycle assessment (LCA) results precludes a meaningful comparison across products and studies. This paper aims to critically and systematically evaluate the lifecycle environmental performance of remanufactured products compared with their new counterparts and to identify the key factors, strengths, and limitations in the assessment procedure. Faced with the noteworthy variations, we closely examined and harmonized the unit function, allocation approach, system boundary, impact assessment method, and the underlying assumptions in screened 20 papers regarding 11 types of products. The environmental indicators adopted in this study were global warming potential (GWP) and primary energy consumption (PEC). In terms of these two indicators, the environmental burdens of remanufactured products relative to newly manufactured alternatives were harmonized to the comparison ratios. With these harmonized samples, descriptive statistics were calculated using Monte Carlo Simulation to disclose the variations of comparison results and identify the general tendency. Results of this meta-study showed that remanufacturing could contribute to over 50% reduction for GWP when usage and end-of-life stages were excluded from the life cycle. The GWP and PEC of remanufactured mechanical products account for 28.5% and 25.9% of the new counterparts, respectively, on average. This meta-analysis of comparative LCAs on new and remanufactured products would advance the understanding of the environmental advantages of remanufacturing.
- Environmental impact
- Life cycle assessment