THE VOICE OF THE EQUIPMENT RENTAL INDUSTRY
ERA and the Circular Economy Package (2nd part)

ERA and the Circular Economy Package (2nd part)

ERA calls on the European Union to promote the environment benefits of the rental concept.  The concept of rental is of course known from the European authorities but is very often referred to as “leasing” or as “sharing economy” and one of ERA’s objectives is to have rental recognised as contributing to the circular economy.

The motivation of ERA comes from the 5 principles used in the rental business:

  • Shared usage,
  • Reparability,
  • Resource use,
  • Reusability,
  • Recyclability.
Shared usage:
The construction companies and the other customers of the rental industry (industry, agriculture, etc.) can access equipment when required and the centralised ownership leads to a more frequent and therefore more efficient use of the equipment.
 
Reparability:
Product design that facilitates maintenance and repair has a positive impact on the life-cycle of the equipment and therefore contributes to the circular economy. To improve the reparability of a piece of equipment, the rental business focuses on two issues:  
  • Building more robust equipment that lowers the number of breakdowns;
  • Standardising equipment which is one of the most important issues for the rental industry in the search for cost optimization.
The availability of information on product repair contributes as well to the circular economy. Rental companies being able to maintain and repair equipment effectively and according to users’ specification helps in extending the equipment life-cycle.
The rental companies focus on spare parts management: the increased availability of spare parts improves the reparability of rental equipment.

Resource use:
Lowering resource use in the use phase of the equipment is an important factor in the circular economy. The resource efficiency of equipment, meaning its consumption of water, electricity or fuel, depends on two criteria: the design of the equipment and how it is used.
 
Product design:
Rental companies actively search for more sustainable equipment to offer the greenest options to their customers. Large rental companies also, if possible, use their bargaining power to demand their suppliers to invest more in R&D to increase safety and limit/reduce pollution and non-recyclable material in equipment.
 
Use of the equipment:
t the request of their customers, rental companies can provide them with theoretical and practical trainings, which are followed by an evaluation of the operator’s performance in the workplace, in order to enable them to optimize the use of the equipment.
 
Reusability:
Components of the dismantled construction equipment can be reused.
As re-use is considered to be a form of waste prevention, the rental concept is also closely linked to this concept, which is the preferred option in the waste management hierarchy.
 
Recyclability:
Rental companies take care of their equipment by repairing when it is still possible, recycling when it is at the end of its life cycle or selling it to second hand markets, if it still complies with the regulations.
Recyclability is a pillar of the circular economy that becomes increasingly important in the rental business.  
The larger rental companies can also use their bargaining power to demand equipment suppliers to invest more in R&D to limit the use of non-recyclable material and take responsibility for end-of-life equipment by collecting, reusing or recycling.
 
All those principles are reminded in the Manifesto for the promotion of the sustainable benefits of the rental concept, also used by ERA in its advocacy process towards the European authorities. The Manifesto is available on the ERA website, http://erarental.org/en/publications/sustainability.
 
Since ERA has started its advocacy works, the reactions of the European authorities have been very positive and supportive of the rental business. As mentioned before, rental was meant by many but leasing was used and promoted in the texts but all of them understand how rental can contribute to a European Circular Economy.
In the report ”Resource efficiency: moving towards a circular economy”, the European Parliament highlights the importance of identifying possible regulatory uncertainties, barriers and/or gaps that can hamper the development of new business models, as the rental one, which are based on resource efficiency. According to ERA, the concept of rental also requires a proper definition and regulation considering its importance in the perspective of saving energy and resources and contributing to a European circular economy.
 
ERA has published its online Sustainability brochure, available at http://sustainability.erarental.org. The brochure presents a dynamic set of best practices on sustainability in the rental industry, categorized according to their role in the supply chain.
The rental companies have the possibility to share more best practices from their own company and to send it to the ERA Secretariat.
The online brochure was created in English but is now available in 6 other languages. 

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