Sustainability and Reverse Logistics
A section of Logistics (ISSN 2305-6290).
Corporate sustainability is interconnected with the global acquisition, trade, movement and use of natural resources and goods. In recent years, much attention has been rightly focused on the innovation to advance the development of more sustainable production and use of consumer products and goods. However, a growing area of research and application is focused on the post-consumer use of products and goods to advance sustainability and the transition to a more circular economy.
Sustainable reverse logistics, also referred to as “aftermarket supply chain”, is the process of collecting and aggregating products, components or materials at the end-of-life for reuse, recycling and returns. Reverse logistics involves the collection of goods and transportation so that they can be organized for remanufacturing, refurbishing, reusing or recycling.
Companies may face hurdles such as complying with policies regulating the transport of waste as well as the unevenness of quality and quantity in return loads.
Technologies and policies, as well as corporate sustainability commitments, can act as major enablers for the expansion of sustainable reverse logistics. Sensors and monitoring devices, asset inventory management, the Internet of Things (IoT), and big data all present solutions that make it easier to identify, locate, track and communicate with the products and components that, at some point, require maintenance, repair or replacing. Life cycle assessment modeling can offer quantifiable data as to the environmental benefits achieved through reverse logistics. Many firms are identifying novel revenue stream and cost efficiencies as they refine their sustainable reverse logistics models while also addressing certain challenges including:
- Incentivizing and educating consumers about the benefits of reverse logistics;
- Wide geographic dispersion of returns;
- Inefficiencies due to lack of scale;
- Labor required for reverse logistics can be intensive;
- Space requirements for reverse logistics.
This Section invites original research papers and reviews focusing on the development and application of reverse logistics used to meet sustainability commitments and/or for advancing the circular economy. This Section aims to contribute to the literature on sustainable reverse logistics for both consumer products as well as for intermediate feedstocks, products and technologies around the globe.
Prof. Dr. Jay S. Golden