Assessing characteristics of reverse and waste logistics from an innovation point of viewAssessing characteristics of reverse and waste logistics from an innovation point of view
Faculty of Applied Economics
Research group
Transport and Regional Economics
Publication type
Source (book)
European Transport Conference 2010 proceedings, Glasgow, UK
Target language
English (eng)
University of Antwerp
Logistics are undergoing constant and increasingly rapid changes: when assessing the sector, ecological as well as sustainability issues are more and more taken into account. Firstly, the awareness of the need for sustainable innovative concepts for reverse and waste logistics during and at the end of life of products is growing. Secondly, legislation issues (for example the WEEE legislation in the European Union) are increasing the needs and importance of innovative reverse and waste logistics chains and concepts. Thirdly, attention is paid more and more to waste issues summarized in the three Rs: Reduce, Re-use and Recycle (related to closed-loop issues). In most cases, the reverse and waste parts of the supply chain are considered as difficult to manage, but one has to admit that the these two parts can also generate significant positive effects/advantages due to extra income and/or cost decreases. The cradle-to-cradle vision on the lifecycle of products can be used as an example of the rising importance of reverse and waste logistics in an extended supply chain with attention to closed-loop flows. As a side remark, one can say that reverse logistics as well as waste logistics are often referred to as service logistics. Hence, the relationship with the customers is significantly important. It this paper, the focus will be clearly on waste logistics and less on reverse logistics. In the first part of the paper, the waste flow will be defined and explained in depth. Also the sometimes fuzzy difference between waste and reverse logistics will be analyzed. We will furthermore describe and analyze the cradle-to-cradle vision which can be used for a better understanding of the growing reverse and waste markets/chains. Hereafter, a typology will be designed which will make it possible to divide waste logistics flows into subflows which have the same or comparable characteristics. The word characteristic needs to be interpreted as a distinguishing feature that can have important effects on the efficiency, cost structure and environmental performance of the waste part of the supply chain. These effects can be positive as well as negative. The design of this typology will be based on qualitative data (academic literature, field research, interviews, etc). In the second part of the paper, the aforementioned typology of waste logistics will be used to list the significant characteristics, which can have important effects on efficiency and costs when implementing innovations. We will try to answer the uestion what are the characteristics that companies and governments need to take into account when implementing innovative concepts in the reverse and waste part of the chain for obtaining optimization/higher efficiency, cost reductions and a better environmental performance?. As a last part, an overall assessment will be made focusing on the concepts and characteristics which have the highest merit from being analyzed more in further research in detail. Keywords: Waste logistics, reverse logistics, innovation, green logistics, characteristics of the supply chain, closed-loop logistics