Thematic Analysis of Reverse Logistics in Supply Chain

Subject: Business
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 7
Word count: 1832
Topics: Logistics, Management


Technological developments, changing consumer needs and global competition have resulted in changing organizations and improving the efficiencies of their supply chains. One of the methods that are widely used to enhance the effectiveness of the supply chain is reverse logistics (Agrawal et al. 2016, p. 93). The process of reverse logistics integrates two concepts, that is, reverse the process and the activity of logistics. It also oversees the flows of both tangible and intangible products from the consumers to the manufacturing location, and at the same time, it is a channel of circulation, where unlike the typical channel, the product moves in the opposite direction. The goal of reverse logistics is to ensure optimization of the distribution channel by supporting the closed loop supply chains by enhancing the processes such as designing the product, distribution channel design, and recovery of a product (Battini et al. 2017, p. 319).

Therefore, reverse logistics means the return of a product that is branded as waste by a consumer and is packaged for reuse, disposal, and recycling. Today, the activity of RL is considered an essential part of green logistics (Jaaron & Backhouse 2016, p. 2). The interest in research on this particular topic developed in the late 20th century, when administrations and companies began a reformation of the waste management. The change included minimizing the amount of waste products in dumping sites and increase the quantity that was recycled or reused (Vlachos 2016, p. 2). 

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The Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (2013, p. 10) describes reverse logistics as the part of management of supply chain management that plans, executes, and monitors the effective, efficient reverse flow and warehousing of goods, services as well as related data between the point of consumption and the location of production to ensure that all customer needs are met. In general, logistics operations usually involve storage, handling of materials, fulfillment of orders, creating a logistics network, managing the stick, demand and supply management, and management of third-party supply chain providers (Khor et al., 2016, p. 96). 

Traditionally, the priority of any organization is its economic performance. However, environmental consideration has become an increased concern for most enterprises (Khan & Qianli, 2017, p. 16829). In addition, there is a positive correlation of reverse logistics to both economic and environmental performance. The plan of the organization to refurbish, reuse, and recycle commodities can be advantageous to the surroundings, raise more returns, and save money. For instance, if an enterprise can minimize the inefficiencies in the return procedure, which consequently reduces carriage, they can significantly reduce carbon emissions while improving the quality of air and likely lessen the expenses (Xu, et al., 2017, p. 358).

One of the indexes that characterize the sustainable growth of a firm is the reverse logistics. Whereas the economic development remains its strategic goal, today it is not possible to attain it without considering the society and the environment in which the business is operating (Guo et al. 2017, p.  387). People’s wellbeing and satisfaction as well as safeguarding the operating setting is the central concepts of reverse operations; and that is why reverse logistic activity combines economic, social, and environmental aspects. Since it is becoming a social concern to protect the environment by the manufacturing firms, efficient management of reversed logistics ensures an established green supply chain and safeguarding the environment (Darbari et al. 2016, p. 791). Therefore, for different reasons, disposal of products may not be a responsibility of a customer, as the original manufacturers will seek a way to reuse or recycle them. 

Many reasons lead to the return of products, which can be termed as reverse supply chain. They may include issues such as the delivery of faulty or malfunctioning products, customer dissatisfaction after using the product, and non-correspondence by the retailers for the products ordered. Again, the return might be as a result of the manufacturer recalling the products due to a technical problem that needs repair to reestablish the products’ security and functionality, or return of the special packing or package after the delivery of the product. Finally, the return might be due to manufacturing waste recycling and reuse (Yu & Solvang 2016, p. 2693).

Additionally, there are manifold benefits that accrue from reverse logistics in a company; increase in returns and revenue from the sale of the returned products; minimized expenses of procuring stocks and spare parts; increase functionality and availability of the product; and increased efficiency of the goods or services. Again, it might lead to the development of experience in solving product problems, reduction in the time taken to respond to the request of customers and the distributors, and increased satisfaction and loyalty of retailers and consumers (Zhang, et al., 2016, p. 1306).

Interestingly, according to Govindan et al. (2015, p. 603), reverse logistics and processes co-exist together with the supply chain, and that is why there is an emergence of the reverse supply chain. Reverse logistics should be integrated into all other supply chain operations such as manufacturing, storage, procurement, and carriage, which are managed by the Supply Chain Management. When all these processes are combined with the reverse logistics, they form a Closed Loop Supply Chain, which implies that the supply chain process involves converse operations and it is responsible for the environmental safety and the society (Dondo & Méndez, 2016, p. 170).

Reverse Supply Chain is divided into two: centralized and decentralized (Feng et al. 2017, p. 601). In the centralized supply chain, the cost efficiency is achieved by creating a centralized facility for testing and evaluating the returned commodities (Kannan, et al., 2017, p. 353). The reseller or the retailer does not take part in the product assessment. The carriage expenses are reduced by transporting the returns in bulk to the supplier. On the other hand, in a decentralized reverse distribution stream, the unused commodities can be restocked instantly. The reseller or the retailer can perform the evaluation of the products, but there has to be a technical viability, and it needs the particular expertise of this technology from the retailers (Hu et al. 2016, p. 17).

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In conclusion, reverse logistics is integrated into the supply chain to improve the efficiency of the supply chain management. Evidently, technological development, the growth of companies, and stringent environmental regulations are driving the organizations to pursue reverse logistics. It is an area of concern as most companies are coming at a wake after the governments demanding their account of their products, even long after they sell the products to the final consumer. The goal of the reverse logistics is to ensure sustainable growth and profitability of organizations, by providing that they balance their economic performance objective with the environmental protection. Finally, there is an emergence of reverse supply chain management (RSCM), which integrates the RL processes into the entire supply chain operations such as manufacturing, procurement, and transportation. RSCM takes two forms, that is, centralized and decentralized. Whereas the primary objective of adopting reverse logistics by an organization is to ensure social and environmental safety, economic benefits associated with the practice are also motivation for such adoption.

Thematic Analysis Table

NoKey ThemesDescription of Key ThemeDominant ConceptReferences
1Theoretical approach of Reverse Logistics.The paper explores various alternatives of disposing of the returned products and the selection criteria using matrix approach or graph theoryDisposition decisions by the organizationAgrawal, Singh, & Murtaza (2017)
2Closed Loop Supply ChainThis article describes the economic, management, modeling and overseeing of the closed-loop supply chain management study field.Reverse logistics supply chain managementBattini, Bogataj, and Choudhary (2017)
3CSCMP conference reviewThis paper review the proceeding of the conference held in 2013 by CSCMP, which handles the supply chain management issues and how technology enables the reverse logistics.Reverse logistics technology and third-party logistics providersCouncil of Supply Chain Management Professionals (2013)
4Value proposition in reverse logisticsThe value of reverse logistics is more than just customer satisfaction and cost reduction. This article describes how economic and environmental issues can be integrated into designing an RL network.Integrating economic, social and environmental considerations in designing the RL supply chainDarbari, Agarwal, and Jha (2016)
5Formulation and modeling of forwarding and reverse logistic issues.There has been a growing concern over the ecology. Therefore, this paper explores the distribution and reuse issues.Green considerations of business in the distribution and recycling.Dondo and Méndez (2016)
6Dual-recycling in the reverse logistics channelsTo explore more than one recycling channel, which is traditionally accepted, this journal examines designing dual-recycling channel. It also explores the challenges that are likely to be faced in the designing process.Centralized and decentralized reverse logistics supply chain managementFeng and Govindan (2017)
7Reversed logistics supply chain managementThe aim of this paper is analysis several publications that have been made regarding RL. Its primary concern is to identify the rising consideration of closed loop supply chain.Closed loop supply chain management.Govindan, Soleimani, and Kannan (2015)
8Environmental sustainability and RLWith the growing concern over the environmental protection, RL is a crucial field. This article reviews the literature of correlation of RL and ecological sustainability for a period between 2006 and 2016.Supply chain and environmental performance.Guo, Shen, Choi, and Jung (2017)
9Centralized and decentralized RLAnalysis of coordination of consumer behavior in recycling by using the newsvendor problem and centralized vendor model.Strategic recycling behaviorHu, Dai,

 Ma, and Ye (2016)

10Demand management in RLThe paper aims at showing how integrated systems approach can be used in designing Logistics systemsCustomer requirementsJaaron, and Backhouse (2016)
11Disassembly line balancing

Recovering the product

Using third-party logistics service provider in reverse logistics.Third-party logistics providerKannan, Garg, Jha,  and Diabat, A., (2017)
12Green supply chain managementThe paper explores the impact of green purchasing on the economic performance of an enterprise.Organization’s performance and green SCM.Khan and Qianli (2017)
13Resource-based view in SCMThe paper explores the benefits that an organization is likely to get by using RLRBV and disposition.Khor, Udin Ramayah and  Hazen (2016)
14Business Strategy in Logistics capacityThe paper explores the literature of the capacity of RL: RBV, the theory of institution and economics of cost of transacting.Firm performanceVlachos (2016)
15Carbon Emission

Solid waste recycling

This study explores the role of RL in reducing the carbon emissions as well as the challenges posed by worldwide waste controlInternational supply chainXu, Z. et al., (2017)
16RL network design

Effects on environment

The paper explores the relationship of RL and carbon emission and the efficiency of improving environmental performance.A suitable location for RL facilities.Yu and Solvang (2016)
17Econometrics and industrial symbiosis of RLThis journal analyzes the relationship between recycling of industrial waste and the carbon emissions.The indirect effect of IWR on the release of carbon in the air.Zhang, Wang, and Lai (2016)
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  1. Agrawal, S., Singh, R. K. & Murtaza, Q., 2016. Disposition decisions in reverse logistics: Graph theory and matrix approach. Journal of Cleaner Production, 137(2016), pp. 93-104.
  2. Battini, D., Bogataj, M. & Choudhary, A., 2017. Closed loop supply chain (CLSC) : economics, modelling, management and control. International journal of production economics, 183(B), pp. 319-321.
  3. CSCMP, 2013. CSCMP’s annual global conference 2013 : in review.. Supply chain management review, 17(7), pp. 10-30.
  4. Darbari, J. D., Agarwal, V. & Jha, P. C., 2016. Reverse Logistics as a Sustainable Value Proposition for Product Acquisition. Journal of Information and Optimization Sciences, 37(5), pp. 791-817.
  5. Dondo, R. G. & Méndez, C. A., 2016. Operational planning of forward and reverse logistic activities on multi-echelon supply-chain networks. Computers and Chemical Engineering,, Volume 88, pp. 170-184.
  6. Feng, L., Govindan, K. & Li, C., 2017. Strategic planning: Design and coordination for dual-recycling channel reverse supply chain considering consumer behavior. European Journal of Operational Research, 260(2), pp. 601-612.
  7. Govindan, K., Soleimani, H. & Kannan, D., 2015. Reverse logistics and closed-loop supply chain: A comprehensive review to explore the future. European Journal of Operational Research, 240(3), pp. 603-626.
  8. Guo, S., Shen, B., Choi, T.-M. & Jung, S., 2017. A review on supply chain contracts in reverse logistics: Supply chain structures and channel leaderships. Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume 144, pp. 387-402.
  9. Hu, S., Dai, Y., Ma, Z.-J. & Ye, Y.-S., 2016. Designing contracts for a reverse supply chain with strategic recycling behavior of consumers. International Journal of Production Economics, Volume 180, pp. 16-24.
  10. Jaaron, A. A. M. & Backhouse, C. J., 2016. A systems approach for forward and reverse logistics design : maximising value from customer involvement. International journal of logistics management, 27(3), pp. 1-10.
  11. Kannan, D., Garg, K., Jha, P. C. & Diabat, A., 2017. Integrating disassembly line balancing in the planning of a reverse logistics network from the perspective of a third party provider. Annals of Operations Research, 253(1), pp. 353-376.
  12. Khan, S. A. R. & Qianli, D., 2017. Impact of green supply chain management practices on firms’ performance: an empirical study from the perspective of Pakistan. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 24(20), pp. 16829-16844.
  13. Khor, K. S., Udin, Z. M., Ramayah, T. & Hazen, B. T., 2016. Reverse logistics in Malaysia: The Contingent role of institutional pressure. International Journal of Production Economics, Volume 175, pp. 96-108.
  14. Vlachos, I. P., 2016. Reverse logistics capabilities and firm performance : the mediating role of business strategy. Proceedings, 1(1), pp. 1-6.
  15. Xu, Z. et al., 2017. Global reverse supply chain design for solid waste recycling under uncertainties and carbon emission constraint. Waste Management, Volume 64, pp. 358-370.
  16. Yu, H. & Solvang, W. D., 2016. A general reverse logistics network design model for product reuse and recycling with environmental considerations. The International Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Technology, 87(9-12), pp. 2693-2711.
  17. Zhang, B., Wang, Z. & Lai, K.-h., 2016. Does Industrial Waste Reuse Bring Dual Benefits of Economic Growth and Carbon Emission Reduction?: Evidence of Incorporating the Indirect Effect of Economic Growth in China. Journal of Industrial Ecology, 20(6), pp. 1306-1319.
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