If you have been part of the reverse logistics and returns industries for any period, you are an active participant of the Circular Economy. For many years, those of us in the so-called baby boomer generation have been hearing that the earth will run out of oil sometime in our lifetime, and in recent years, we have heard about the need for renewable energy, like solar. That would be one simplified view of the Circular Economy.
Those of us in returns management have spent time in another expression of the Circular Economy. We try to reduce the returns by improving customer satisfaction with products, simplifying their use, eliminating fraudulent returns, and then working to efficiently process legitimate returns and recover as much as possible for resale in the secondary marketplace. We all know about no technical fault returns, and we know about unnecessary buyer remorse returns, and we also see the rise in e-commerce returns as people try varied sizes and styles and easily send back any undesired products.
Ultimately, the reverse logistics industry is based on finding ways to repair, refurbish, repackage, and remarket over 95% of the products returned, offering good values to another class of customers who are happy paying less for these renewed products. Most of the balance of returns are recycled by a growing industry of companies who are finding more ways to extract raw materials from the unusable products and help convert them into other consumer products. It is amazing to think of all the new uses for plastic milk containers, for example, and that the metals in many of our products are now being reused for new production.
Take time to read the important article in this edition by Carrie Snyder, and recognize that the Reverse Logistics Association has been a part of the Circular Economy since the beginning