Thinking about reuse.
In my last two blogs I have been discussing the productivity of materials and why it should have a higher visibility in our consideration of supply chain improvements, equal or even more important than labour productivity.
Thinking about sustainability and improving materials productivity has generated new terms, such as environmental logistics, with its focus on reducing all sustainability affected costs in supply chains and logistics. Environmental logistics incorporates what we have known as reverse logistics, the handling of items and materials as they travel back through their supply chains.
When you are considering environmental logistics, terms that commence with ‘re’ will be used in reference to an item as it moves through its supply chain from commodity materials supplier (mining and agriculture) to the end user. Examples noted in my book A Framework for Supply Chains are:
- Primary producers and Converters – recycle (materials conversion) to another item
- Fabricators and Assemblers – refurbish the condition of an item; re-manufacture to ‘as new’ condition
- Assemblers/OEMs – re-marketing products that have been refurbished and re-manufactured
- Logistics service provider – returnable containers e.g. plastic baskets or trays for transporting horticultural products
- Retailers – recall of faulty products
- End user – repair and product servicing to extend its productive life; returns as a warranty claim
The more that materials can be reused, then less of a commodity, with its likely higher cost, will be required in the supply chains. While reverse logistics activities are occurring, they are rarely considered as an integral part of an overall logistics strategy. This should aim to improve the productivity of all elements concerned with managing the movement of materials.