Today’s re-post is by Mike Figueroa, Project Manager at SafeSourcing.
We’ve spent years perfecting how to get “stuff” from in the dirt where we found it, make it more useful, and put it into consumers hands. This is called “logistics”. But now we’re faced with the task of figuring out how to do the opposite, without destroying the planet we got it from.
Enter Reverse Supply Chain Management (RSCM) or “Reverse Logistics as it’s sometimes called. The short definition of RSCM is to capture value from end of life products, and to take them backwards into the supply chain and/or reintroduce them into the biosphere/technosphere through a sustainable and profitable system. This can include activities such as reacquiring ownership of used products from the end user back to the manufacturer or reseller, transportation of used products for sorting, evaluation and designation of products for their most profitable use, remanufacturing or refurbishing, creating secondary markets for reclaimed products, recycling back to base components and responsible disposal.
One example of RSCM is the relatively new business of “Deconstruction”. In this process buildings are taken apart based upon material component value. These materials are either re-used in new construction, recycled into raw materials, or disposed of through environmentally sustainable means. Total annual building materials (C&D debris) disposed of in landfills in the US each year is not tracked by the EPA, but estimates range between 170 and 600 million tons disposed of in landfills currently, typically with only certain metals ever being collected and recycled from the debris. Organizations pioneering this field can be found at http://www.bignyc.org/, http://www.lifecyclebuilding.org/, and www.bmra.org.
Another example of businesses capturing value from RSCM is Dupont, which achieved zero-landfill status at one of their facilities that allowed them to realize $2.2 million in revenue in 2011 from the sale of waste by-products, and $400,000 in cost avoidance (http://www2.dupont.com/inclusive-innovations/en-us/gss/sustainability/employee-engagement/landfill.html). Similarly Subaru, GM, Honda, and Burt’s Bee’s have captured additional revenue or cost avoidance by repurposing waste through reverse logistical processes (http://www.greenmanufacturer.net/article/facilities/manufacturers-gone-zero-landfill).
The challenge is that reversing the supply chain for products that have been modified in an infinite number of ways over their usage life is exponentially more complex than taking virgin material to end consumer product. The premise to that problem however, should be that not engaging this process now while it’s optional, only makes what will certainly become a necessity more complex the longer it’s postponed, and presents a large opportunity cost every year potential new savings/revenue is not captured.
We at SafeSourcing have a knack for finding markets and cost avoidance opportunities that most don’t aren’t even aware exist. For more information on how we can help you with your procurement needs or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative. We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.
We look forward to your comments.