Pumps and Circular Economy

For several years, due to the good prices of metals and the lack of engineering and manufacturing capabilities installed in Latin America, the mining industry has operated under a lineal philosophy with its overseas providers, over-stocking pump parts and components with a “throw things away” approach. However the current economic crisis, global warming and a more empowered society have pushed the industry to develop innovative, efficient and sustainable solutions in order to improve its productivity, save energy and reduce its carbon footprint thus mitigating the negative effects of climate change.

This is where circular economy brings fresh air to this mature industry, providing new opportunities for innovation while offering a new approach that goes beyond recycling and reducing energy, becoming a real alternative to move away from the current “take-make-dispose” linear approach and moving towards a more environmental, social and sustainable circular philosophy that considers waste as an error of design.

Throughout the years, Neptuno Pumps has characterized by the design of engineered, innovative and efficient pumps which have saved millions of dollars in energy and reduced thousands of tons in carbon emissions. Its strategic location, right in the heart of the world’s biggest mining industry in Chile, has allowed them to deliver innovations which have been recognized with two Pump Industry Awards in the “Technical Innovation of the Year – Projects” category as well as other international innovation and sustainability awards.

However, the company noticed that working towards energy efficiency was not enough in order to mitigate neither the negative effects of climate change nor the finite nature of resources. It also realized that the mining industry has a tremendous potential for circular economy, particularly in the fluids transportation area, due to its highly corrosive and abrasive operational conditions, offering a continuous flow of pumping equipment and materials that could be permanently remanufactured, reused and recycled.

As featured in the Ellen MacArthur Foundation Network Map, Neptuno Pumps has incorporated the circular economy approach to its processes, designing its equipment in order to be easy to take apart, permitting the reusing and recycling of most of its most important and expensive parts, thus reducing its cost of remanufacturing and guaranteeing that pumps will be durable enough to withstand multiple cycles of use. This has allowed the company to offer products that are 30 to 40% of their original price with a one-year warranty, just as it was a brand new product.

Circular economy has been gaining momentum through remanufacturing, reusing and recycling valuable resources, thus replacing the old “take-make-dispose” linear approach by a more innovative, sustainable and stable pattern of growth where what used to be regarded as waste is now considered a resource. Furthermore, it represents a tremendous opportunity for developing countries -which have historically based their economy in the exploitation of commodities- to industrialize in a smart and sustainable way, reshoring engineering and manufacturing capabilities near local industries thus creating processes that protect the environment, create jobs and foster innovation… The French poet Victor Hugo said that nothing is stronger than an idea whose time has come, and as shown above, the time for circular economy has arrived.

Petar Ostojic, CEO