Reverse logistics requires new expertise

“Gone are the days when pretty pictures in the annual report are enough to demonstrate your sustainability and corporate commitment,” he says
By Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
October 11, 2010 - SCMR Editorial

One of the basic tenets of the Boy Scout code is to “leave no trace” when vacating a camp site. The same rule applies to the supply chain, contend some former scouts.

“We owe it to our community and future generations,” said Gary Cullen, Chief Operating Officer of 4PRL LLC, the reverse logistics company of The Georgetowne Group.

“Consumer buying patterns in the past were more conservative and therefore pushed product obsolescence to a larger window—three to five years for a television, for example” he said.  “But now, consumers want the newest television set on the market. One year it’s the flat screen, the next it’s got to be 3D.”

Cullen added that this is happening across all product lines, but particularly high tech…which is often the most toxic.

Speaking at the “sustainability” session of last month’s Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) Annual Global Conference in San Diego, Cullen provided several compelling reasons to concentrate on reverse logistics.

“Gone are the days when pretty pictures in the annual report are enough to demonstrate your sustainability and corporate commitment,” he said. “Companies must now provide verifiable evidence of social and environmental impacts.  Yet in order to justify the continued application of resources companies must also demonstrate real business results.”

In his presentation, “Social Responsibility and Environmental Impact of a Reverse Supply Chain,” Cullen cited a recent Aberdeen Group survey showing growing concern over “cradle-to-grave” logistics.
“And the consensus of response was that the grave has to get a whole lot smaller,” said Cullen.

In a subsequent interview with SCMR, Cullen spoke on how a forward supply chain is only half of the total logistics process, and how the very complex network of third party service providers’ (3PSPs) services impact expense, sustainability, and corporate environmental citizenship. 

“The trend to watch,” he says, “is for more specialization in this area. The traditional 3PLs and/or 4PLs are not ready or eager to jump into this business. We feel that the 4RPL model is going to set the new standard.”

He added, jokingly, that the bygone television show, “Sanford & Son,” set the stage for reverse logistics.

“But it has become considerably more complex since then,” said Cullen.



About the Author

image
Patrick Burnson
Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Subscribe to Logistics Management magazine

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your
entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Recent Entries

So far, so good may be the best way to describe the current state of progress in the negotiating process regarding the announcement made last month by FedEx that it plans to acquire Netherlands-based TNT-NV and a provider of mail and courier services and the fourth largest global parcel operator for $4.8 billion.

A new study, “Understanding Risk Assessment Practices at Manufacturing Companies,” uncovers complex business risks and disruptors facing manufacturers, and a pressing need for the industry to evolve its risk assessment capabilities.

Led by perennial earnings champ Old Dominion Freight Line, the nation’s LTL carriers as a group are enjoying a particularly strong earnings season—especially when one considers the first quarter usually is the slowest period for trucking in general with harsh winter weather bearing down on earnings.

A mixed bag may be the most appropriate way to characterize the current state of manufacturing based on the most recent edition of the April edition of the Manufacturing Report on Business issued by the Institute for Supply Management today.

The Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (FRA) issued its long-awaited Final Rulemaking for “Enhanced Tank Car Standards and Operational Controls for High-Hazard Flammable Trains.”

About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review. Patrick covers international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. Contact Patrick Burnson

Comments

Post a comment
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.