Closed loop supply chains can help companies reduce waste and maximize resources, which is why a growing number of businesses are combining traditional supply chains (forward logistics) with reverse logistics, Business2Community reports.
Reverse logistics requires the manufacturer to encourage the product’s return — either for repair or resale, or, if those scenarios aren’t viable, then for recycling and reuse of its parts in future products — at the product’s end of life. This allows the manufacturer to maintain and recover value from discarded products and reduce waste, both of which provide savings opportunities for companies.
Many leading companies are already using closed loop approaches and achieving cost savings from these efforts.
Coca-Cola European Partners, for example, is collaborating with recyclers, packaging manufacturers and other firms across the supply chain to cut costs and materials used.
The world’s largest independent Coca-Cola bottler partnered with labeling and packaging company Avery Dennison, waste management company Viridor and plastics processor PET UK to recycle waste PET liners from its Smartwater bottles and make new items.
The companies expect the circular economy initiative will save CCEP about £25,000 ($30,658) annually and reduced CO2 emissions last year by 180 to 200 metric tons.
Additionally, Dell designs its PCs and components to be easily reused and upgraded. The products are also designed for recyclability, so that when they do reach end of life, they can be easily disassembled and recycled.
The company has set goals to use 50 million pounds of recycled-content plastic and other sustainable materials in its products by 2020 and also to recover 2 billion pounds of used electronics in the same time frame.
“The business case really is what can we do to make the design robust enough so that we can get the maximum value from resale and reuse,” Scott O’Connell, Dell’s director of environmental affairs said in an earlier interview. “The other thing is time. When recyclers do tear down and disassemble products that take time. It is more time and cost effective to get the product torn down as quickly as possible.”
To further help manufacturers save money by making it easier to recycle and reuse materials, the US Energy Department earlier this month announced plans for a $140 million sustainable manufacturing institute.
The new center, called the Reducing Embodied-energy and Decreasing Emissions (REMADE) Institute, which will focus on reducing the cost of technologies needed to reuse, recycle and remanufacture materials such as metals, fibers, polymers and electronic waste. It aims to achieve a 50 percent improvement in overall energy efficiency by 2027, which could save manufacturers’ billions of dollars, the DOE says.