Reverse logistics is a type of logistics that is responsible for the management of waste or waste that is generated throughout the supply chain. This, with the aim of recycling or destroying said material.
Reverse logistics, then, can involve various actions, such as the reuse of surplus goods, the return of merchandise (for example in poor condition) to suppliers, or the recovery of packaging (such as glass bottles).
Likewise, this type of logistics is responsible for the treatment of waste from the production process.
It should also be clarified that there is no single definition of reverse logistics. But, what is usually always emphasized is the recovery of elements that have already been used or that were the result of the same production process.
It is called reverse logistics because the order or sequence of the logistics process is reversed, which would be the following: receipt of raw materials, input of raw materials to the production process, production, distribution and sale to the end customer.
Reverse logistics example
An example of reverse logistics is the repair services offered by companies that sell household appliances. The idea is that, during a warranty period, the customer can request the seller to repair the purchased item. This, provided that certain conditions are met, mainly, that no damage attributable to human action has been generated.
By providing this after-sales service, the seller can then replace certain pieces of his merchandise so that it works optimally. Thus, greater customer satisfaction is achieved.
Reverse logistics and circular economy
The concept of reverse logistics can remind us of the circular economy. This raises a productive model characterized by sustainability and saving resources and energy sources. Goods are produced, consumed, recycled, produced and consumed again, entering a circular life cycle.
We can infer that when applying the circular economy we are also resorting to reverse logistics. However, the latter is a broader term that encompasses business practices that are not solely motivated by caring for the environment. Instead, it may be that the company is just looking to generate higher profits.
For example, imagine that a firm tries to sell products that had originally been discarded or returned due to minor flaws. This cannot be considered a circular economy because the firm is not reusing waste from the production process. However, we are facing a case of reverse logistics.