Reverse logistics is the term for any operation relating to the reuse of materials and products. Essentially, it involves the moving of goods from the final destination of their normal logistics process in order to capture value or properly dispose of them.

Reverse logistics services include the management and selling of surplus materials, as well as taking products back from the customer to the distributor or manufacturer.

An example of reverse logistics would be that if a purchased product were defective, the customer would return it. The manufacturer would then be responsible for managing the shipping, testing, dismantling, repairs, recycling or disposal of the defective product. It thus moves in reverse through the typical supply chain network with the objective of obtaining some kind of use from the defective product.

chain showing the way reverse logistics move: in reverse through the typical supply chain network

Reverse Logistics vs. Traditional Logistics

The traditional flow of logistics is formally defined as the planning, implementation and control of the efficient and cost-effective movement of in-process inventory, raw materials and finished goods from the starting point to the point of user consumption to meet customer requirements. Reverse logistics, on the other hand, is defined as the same process but from the point of user consumption back to the starting point in order to recapture value or properly dispose of the goods.

During traditional logistics, sales forecasts typically project the requirements at every level of the supply chain, with a constant flow of information to manage production and inventory levels. In reverse logistics, shippers don’t really initiate the activity as a direct result of planning; it is a response to consumers when they discover faults or problems with their goods.

ICT Reverse employee stacking boxes onto a warehouse shelf
The Landscape of Reverse Logistics Services

The reuse of materials and products is not a new concept; waste paper, plastic and metal recycling have all been around for a long time. But the research field of reverse logistics has come about fairly recently. There is a growing body of knowledge developing around the field of reverse logistics that only started life within the last two decades, with the last decade seeing it come on in leaps and bounds. Unfortunately, many companies are yet to realise fully the importance of the practice, in fact, it is too often viewed as an unnecessary and expensive headache.

We are now living in a time when awareness of the fragility of the environment and the limits to the resources we take for granted are higher than ever before. One of the most important things for a socially and environmentally responsible individual/family/company/country to do in this era is minimise the amount of waste being produced.

Through reverse logistics in its many forms, you can help make your company greener and more responsible, which will work wonders for brand trust amongst customers and help protect the environment in the process.

 

box of old mobile phones in a green recycling box ready to be securely disposed of

At ICT Reverse, we have a range of reverse logistics services to help you become a greener company without the headache of managing your own reverse logistics. So please contact us by phone, email or our online contact form to discuss how we can help you today.

 

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