Demonstration of environmental responsibility, reverse logistics demonstrates a strong concern for society.
More than a demonstration of environmental responsibility, reverse logistics demonstrates, on the part of the State and companies, a strong concern for society. Which is easy to explain. Human beings are an integral part of the environment. Kind of if it is not properly preserved, it puts the survival of the human species and the planet as a whole at risk. Did you know, for example, that one liter of lubricating oil can contaminate up to one million liters of water?
That is, we are not talking about a fad. But after all, what is Reverse Logistics? Basically it is the reversal of the flow of a product, from the consumer to the manufacturer, with the aim of recycling or environmentally correct disposal of the manufactured item. This subject has been debated for many years. In 1971, researchers Willian G. Zikmund and Willian J. Stanton already addressed the topic, at the time called “reverse distribution”. Currently academic definitions are more precise than the one given at the opening of this paragraph. Dale Rogers and Ronald Tibben-Lembke, for example, in the book “Going Backwards: Reverse Logistics Trends and Practices” , from 1998, say that Reverse Logistics is“the process of planning, implementing and controlling the efficient and cost-effective flow of raw materials, work-in-process inventory, finished goods and related information from the point of consumption to the point of origin, for the purpose of recapturing value or allocating at the appropriate disposal.”
But it was only in the 90s of the last century that the first items actually began to make their way back to the manufacturer, with emphasis on pesticides, hospital waste, medicines, batteries and chemical packaging. Today we have other materials on that list, such as fluorescent lamps, lubricating oils, tires, electronic objects and their components. Reverse Logistics is usually done in three stages. First, the consumer leaves the item at the merchant. Then the trader sends it to the manufacturer. And, finally, the manufacturer can reuse the product (such as glass soft drink packaging), recycle it (as is done with aluminum cans) or send it to the most appropriate disposal, in accordance with health regulations. This is the Post-Consumer Reverse Logistics modality. But in some cases such products are shipped back to the industry before reaching the market. This is what happens with defective or perishable and out-of-date goods. In this case, the modality is Post-Sales Reverse Logistics.
Such steps require logistical infrastructure. We are talking about sorting centers, storage spaces and vehicles for transport. That is, there is a considerable cost involved in the process. Using part of what the company has in human resources, warehouses and trucks is an alternative to reduce expenses. But everything must be done to optimize resources and in accordance with the legislation.
In Brazil, the law that deals with this matter is No. 12,305, of August 2, 2010, which established the National Solid Waste Policy, later regulated by Decree No. 7,404, of December 23, 2010. In force for 21 years, the PNRS has not yet been fully implemented, especially when it comes to public matters and the controversial sanitary landfills, very different from the open-air dumps that still exist in our country. But when it comes to Reverse Logistics, Brazil has evolved a lot, according to the Federal Government itself.
According to the Ministry of the Environment, “in 2020, Brazil broke a record, recycling 97.4% of the aluminum cans that entered the market.” More than 30 billion cans were recycled in the country. The Federal Government website also highlighted other expressive numbers. In 2019, 155 tons of batteries, 45 thousand tons of pesticide packaging, 420 thousand tons of tires (not to mention the 12 million tires that were retreaded) and 490 million liters of lubricating oil were collected. The Federal Government has audacious short-term goals, such as collecting 16 million car batteries per year, equivalent to 155 thousand tons. “Another recently created system was that of electronics, also sanctioned by President Jair Bolsonaro in 2020, which plans to implement more than 5,000 voluntary delivery points across the country, so that citizens can dispose of them properly, from headphones to the fridge. Thus, this material goes to the dismantling unit, where it will receive the proper treatment ”, says the environmental quality secretary of the Ministry of the Environment, André França.
It is important to emphasize that the cost of Reverse Logistics can be minimized by recognizing and using the financial value of what is apparently garbage. Yes. Apparently. Many of these products can be considered raw materials for other companies. Pesticide packaging, for example, has been melted down and transformed into pipes for civil construction for years. Tires can be shredded and mixed with the asphalt mass in retreading and new paving. Lead, present in car batteries, has several applications. In many cases, the reuse of materials can even reduce the operating costs of several companies.
However, the Blog da Logística website warns that “these expenses are directly related to the core activity of the business, so reducing them without proper study and analysis could mean a decrease in quality or loss of production capacity. The financial aspect can be divided into two areas: increasing profitability and saving resources. Statistics released by the Ministry of the Environment estimate that the Brazilian market fails to collect R$ 8 billion per year due to the lack of adequate infrastructure for the disposal of solid waste and recycling. The costs to keep this type of operation running are high and it is difficult to adapt the chain links to this new reality. The return of products and packaging is hampered by the lack of proper management, scarcity of licensed sites for treatment and disposal, in addition to the absence of incentives for entrepreneurs. There are few who dedicate themselves to creating legalized landfills, treatment plants and places for the incineration of products, resulting in the cost of the entire operation.” The same website says that “economic growth can be balanced with the replenishment of the production cycle, the reuse of parts and equipment, the repair of defective goods by the manufacturer and the development of recyclable and returnable packaging. ”
Anyway, the structures for Reverse Logistics are still being created in Brazil and to work they need the support of someone irreplaceable in this process: the consumer. The end customer must separate the products that already have chains for the inversion of the flow and send these items to the manufacturer through the collection points, present in the merchants of the respective areas or in supermarkets, for example. Many initiatives are being taken in this direction.