Reverse logistics: What is it and why invest in it?

Reverse logistics: What is it and why invest in it?

Reverse logistics

Thanks to reverse logistics through different actions it is possible to reduce the impact that industrial activities have on the environment.

Often reverse logistics can become confused with sustainable logistics which we already talked about in this other article. However there are two different and complementary concepts, that we will explain to you in detail.

What is reverse logistics?

Reverse logistics responds to the current and necessary trend of trying to minimise waste generated and to avoid creating serious damage to the environment.

In general we understand that the logistics chain starts in industry, passes through the retailer and concludes with the end customer. However, through the inverse logistics a circular flow is created by which everything that is manufactured, distributed, marketed and reaches the final customer, can be returned in case of change of decision or disuse, or when It has ended its useful life, so it is collected, recycled and returned to the starting point, to the industry or factory, to be recycled and/or reused. In this way, the starting and ending point is the same; the producer, who is responsible for managing all those waste and materials that come from his activity.

The objective of reverse logistics is to recover, recycle and reuse all consumer packaging, returns, obsolete products, waste, packaging, waste etc. Also, to respond to the challenge of complying with the guidelines established, in this case by the European Union in environmental matters.

On the other hand, sustainable or green logistics is the set of measures that a logistics and transport company takes towards its commitment to the planet, to reduce its impact on the environment, in relation to the use of clean fuels, reduction of its CO2 emissions, the optimisation of its warehouses, the design and use of recyclable packaging etc.

Types of reverse logistics

There are two types of reverse logistics: return logistics and recycling / waste logistics.

In the first case, the logistics of returns is the management of customer returns to the starting point (manufacturer or wholesaler). Today, this type of reverse logistics represents one of the most important points for eCommerce and can represent a differential value of some companies with respect to others.

In the second case, waste logistics is the recovery, recycling or treatment of waste so that it can then be used or reused and reduce the impact on the environment.

Why invest in reverse logistics?

In addition to reducing the impact on the environment, reverse logistics investment has benefits, among others:

  • Cost reduction, when instead of using new raw materials, those obtained through reverse logistics are reused.
  • Positive image before the final client both for return policy and for corporate social responsibility policy.
  • It offers the possibility of replacing the product of the final customer with a new one and to the company of recycling parts and systems to make other products.
  • It allows to comply with environmental legislation.

Despite this, reverse logistics is a higher cost, as it requires a greater investment in transport, personnel, control, new processes, etc.

Real examples of reverse logistics

Outlets, restoration, repair and remanufacturing: Today, there are different ways of applying reverse logistics, largely thanks to the proliferation and professionalisation of eCommerce.

Below, we briefly tell you about three examples of companies that, thanks to their reverse logistics, are giving us a lot to talk about.

Amazon The online business giant has an exemplary return policy. With the high volume of sales they manage, it is not easy to reach a point where both customers and the brand feel comfortable, but Amazon has succeeded.

Nespresso At the moment, Nespresso is the only company for which the cycle of each coffee capsule does not end in the customer’s trash, but thanks to its commitment to the environment, it offers the possibility of collecting used aluminum capsules at different points to give them a second life.

Apple When a terminal of the Californian company is damaged by manufacturing defects, the customer has the possibility of taking it to a brand store and, after performing a series of technical checks and checking its status, it offers the possibility of taking the old terminal to be repaired and reused or changing it for a new terminal in perfect condition completely free.