Earlier this week, the Washington, D.C.-based National Retail Federation (NRF) said it has acquired the Reverse Logistics Association (RLA), a global trade association for the returns and reverse industry. A purchase price was not disclosed.
“NRF has a long history of convening supply chain professionals to collaborate and develop resources that improve the retail industry. Retailers understand the importance of sustainability practices and the environmental, economic, social and consumer benefits that accompany them,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement. “As consumer demand for sustainable offerings continues to increase, RLA’s reverse logistics expertise will help our members to ‘close the loop’ and accelerate the emergence of the circular economy.”
The organization described the circular economy as an economy-wide effort to ensure that useful products, materials and resources are reused or recycled. It noted that while hundreds of retail brands already offer “gently used” or “pre-loved” products to their customers, many others sell excess inventory at a discount. The reverse logistics industry manages the collecting, sorting, repairing and refurbishing of products for resale or recycling, it said.
“Joining NRF is an exciting opportunity for RLA and our members,” said RLA Executive Director Tony Sciarrotta in the same statement. “NRF recognizes reverse logistics as the backbone of the circular economy and understands how it plays a vital role in broader sustainability initiatives for the retail industry. Through this partnership, RLA will continue to reach industries investing in the circular economy and enhance NRF’s long-term commitment to retail’s supply chain and sustainability efforts.”
NRF Vice President of CSR and Sustainability Scot Case told LM that there were various drivers for this acquisition.
“As the leading authority and voice for the retail industry, NRF provides retailers with access to vital information and resources to help them succeed,” he said. “The acquisition of the Reverse Logistics Association was a logical step as NRF and our members continue to invest in sustainability initiatives, including the emerging circular economy. NRF and RLA have longstanding history of collaboration as reverse logistics has become a more prominent part of retail operations and the industry’s broader sustainability initiatives.”
Case also added that RLA and its members understand the reverse logistics space better than anyone else.
“This partnership provides RLA members with opportunities to scale successful and more sustainable solutions within the retail industry,” he said. “As sustainability and circularity have become more important for both consumers and retailers, NRF members will continue to receive the most forward-thinking innovations, research and information to support their long-term sustainability and supply chain initiatives.”