"Waste not, want not" - Reverse logistics for a circular economy

Today’s "take, make, dispose" economy is heavily dependent on natural resources, creating a considerable amount of waste. How can we decouple growth from resource use? We need to shift to an economy that is restorative and regenerative by design: A circular economy can increase the share of renewable or recyclable resources while reducing the consumption of raw materials and energy.

Benefits of a circular economy are obvious, ranging from more resilient value chains to revenue from new business models. But why don‘t we see the implementation of a circular economy on a larger scale? Companies are facing some key challenges, including but not limited to the requirement to manage complexity of a circular value chain, comprehend requirements towards returning used products, and preserve residual value of return products.

For scaling-up a circular economy, it is crucial to understand the role and requirements of reverse logistics.

With member companies from Ellen MacArthur Foundation's CE100, leading in the area of circular economy, and in partnership with Cranfield University, we've identified the crucial role of logistics in overcoming those challenges. We have developed the Reverse Logistics Maturity Model for assessment and improvement of return management for a circular economy. The model and related findings are available in the paper "Waste not, want not.":

  • Logistics can enable the circular flow of goods, in collecting used products for recovery, linking markets and providing transparency across the circular value supply chain
  • Prototypical approach to understand different requirements and success criteria for reverse logistics, driven by different product types and business models
  • Reverse Logistics Maturity Model to evaluate and improve own return management's and reverse logistics' performance 

Explore the role of logistics within a circular economy and leverage the Reverse Logistics Maturity Model to scale-up your return management.