A plastics industry trade group is welcoming an announcement by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Rochester Institute of Technology to form a new center to develop technology in energy efficiency and for the reuse and recycling of materials in manufacturing.
DOE and RIT on Jan. 4 announced the $140 million initiative to form the Reducing Embodied-energy and Decreasing Emissions Institute, or Remade, at RIT's Golisano Institute of Sustainability.
Funding will be split equally between federal and non-federal matching funds, but DOE noted that the $70 million in federal funding is dependent on future budget appropriations.
“The Remade Institute will focus on driving down the cost of technologies needed to reuse, recycle and remanufacture materials such as metals, fibers, polymers and electronic waste and aims to achieve a 50 percent improvement in overall energy efficiency by 2027,” DOE said.
In a statement, the plastics division of the Washington-based American Chemistry Council welcomed the selection of RIT, in Rochester, N.Y., to head the effort.
“We look forward to working with all consortium members to increase the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers and to strengthen remanufacturing and recycling as a means to further enhance the overall sustainability of the materials we use,” said Steve Russell, vice president of ACC's plastics division.
ACC is an affiliate member of the Remade Institute, along with the Plastics Industry Association in Washington.
DOE said the Remade Institute would be the 13th such institute formed by the federal government as part of its Manufacturing USA initiative since 2012. It said the federal government has spent $920 million on them, with $1.87 billion in non-federal investment.
The chairman and CEO of Remade, Nabil Nasr, who is also the associate provost and director of the Golisano Institute, said more energy efficient technology in manufacturing is important to creating economic growth.
“Across the nation and around the world, cleaner production, clean tech and adoption of a circular economy are recognized as critical drivers to a prosperous future,” he said. “As resource scarcity intensifies, the thoughtful use of water, energy and raw materials is the only path forward.”
DOE said manufacturing accounts for nearly 25 percent of U.S. energy use, with the physical products created in manufacturing accounting for most of that.
It estimated that more cost-effective technology in materials production could save the equivalent of the energy consumed by New Hampshire, Hawaii, Delaware, Rhode Island, Washington, D.C. and Vermont.