REMADE to host conference in D.C.

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The REMADE Institute–led in part by Rochester Institute of Technology–continues to advance the conversation on a circular economy. 

The national institute will host the 2024 REMADE Circular Economy Technology Summit & Conference in Washington, D.C., April 10-11. 

“REMADE is excited to host this important summit once again, featuring renowned experts from across the country and around the world,” says Nabil Nasr, CEO of REMADE, associate provost and director of RIT’s Golisano Institute for Sustainability. “Our ultimate objective is to advance the global conversation on a circular approach and how it can support the U.S. and nations around the world in meeting their multiple energy, environmental, manufacturing, industrial decarbonization, and economic goals.”

The conference will bring together innovators, educators, researchers, business leaders and policymakers, and others involved in the shift to a circular economy, fostering collaboration and connection. 

A circular economy tackles manufacturing and consumption in a different way by pushing waste and pollution out of industrial systems, using materials and resources for as long as possible, and regenerating natural ecologies for generations to come. In contrast, a linear economy has the “take-make-consume-waste” approach, experts say.

For the circular economy to be adopted faster, it requires new technologies and strategies–from rethinking supply chains to reusable packaging. The conference is one step in that direction. In addition to a wide array of keynote and plenary speakers, the conference agenda includes presentations on dozens of research papers, including several from RIT, officials say. Themed tracks will feature presentations that explore technologies and tools.

Attendees will have access to research from experts worldwide, including work funded by the U.S. through REMADE. Focus areas at the conference include mechanical recycling, the pathway to net-zero emissions in manufacturing and design for circularity.

Putting a circular economy in motion calls for reduced energy consumption and the use of raw materials while increasing the supply of recycled materials. The U.S. industrial sector is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions at 30 percent, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, while manufacturing accounts for 25 percent of energy consumption and carbon emissions. 

These are just some of the reasons why circular manufacturing is so critical, Nasr says.

“Research shows that renewable energy, diet shift, and other approaches will get us a little more than halfway to net-zero by 2050, about 55 percent of the way,” he says. “A circular economy approach to how we manufacture and use everyday products addresses the remaining 45 percent, helping us get all the way to net-zero.”

The impetus for REMADE came from the need to reduce the costs associated with the reuse, recycle and remanufacture strategy. When it was launched in 2017, as part of an initiative called Manufacturing USA (also known as the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation), it was tasked with achieving 50 percent improvement in overall energy efficiency by 2027.

The institute was created in Rochester as a public-private partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy, with an initial investment of $140 million. In partnership with industry, academia, trade organizations, and national laboratories, REMADE enables early-stage applied research and development that will create jobs, dramatically reduce embodied energy and greenhouse gas emissions, and increase the supply and use of recycled materials, the institute says.

The summit next week augments that vision. It is organized in partnership with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and support from the Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and industry, trade associations, and academic sponsors. The inaugural REMADE summit and conference last year drew more than 300 attendees.

Smriti Jacob is Rochester Beacon managing editor. The Beacon welcomes comments and letters from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name. Submissions to the Letters page should be sent to [email protected]

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