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Green Reverse Logistics and Why it is Critical for The Circular Economy

Logistics plays a vital role in the supply chain, which consists of all the procedures involved in the flow of materials from a source to a customer. A big reason for interest in green logistics is that companies realize it is not just about protecting the environment but about increasing productivity, reducing cost, improving profit margins, and rendering the supply chain the value chain. A truck that emits particulate matter as it makes several trips carrying less than half the truckload capacity is a classic example of waste and an adverse environmental activity. Proper planning should be taken to avoid these situations. Unnecessary and wasteful movement of goods before they reach the final destination also contributes to operational inefficiency. Using life cycle thinking can help supply chains plan out their logistics and eliminate waste by taking the overall big-picture view of the transport route of goods singularly and the general transport needs of suppliers.

Green Reverse Logistics is essential when a product cannot be fully reused and must instead be recycled. Green Reverse Logistics (aka Green Supply Chain Logistics) is a necessary step in going beyond sustainability to achieving circularity. Recent research comparing consumers' perceptions of new and recycled products has uncovered a shift in consumer appreciation of the quality of recycled products. This shift means that the environmental impact of recycling must be less than that of using a new material to create virgin material. What this means for Green Reverse Logistics is that to keep the environmental footprint o the recycled material below that of the new product made from virgin material, it must operate in the most environmentally efficient way.

Circularity concentrates on keeping materials out of landfills. This is a contrast, in terms of logistics, to sending materials to a landfill because the logistics of waste management is a somewhat local system. Reverse logistics of recycled materials rely on collecting the materials, processing them, and then finding manufacturers who need the recycled material as input. Unfortunately, the possibility that the processed recycled material will travel outside a local area is great; reverse logistics is more than simply transferring material to a local landfill. This focuses on Green Reverse Logistics and making it as efficient as possible.

Green Reverse Logistics is not an area that has received significant attention to date because the overall amount of materials diverted from landfills and recycled, repurposed, or remanufactured is small. However, as the circular economy grows, this concept will also increase, and logistics providers will need to be more efficient than ever. The question is, will they be ready?

Denice Viktoria Staaf

Supply Chain Diva | Sustainability and Circularity Expert | EPD and HPD Approved Preparer | Mentor and Coach | Supporter Women's Empowerment | Green Building Advocate

Member, Education and Research Executive Board (EREB)

VCARE Academy Inc.


Labeling Sustainability Inc.


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