1. Rely on holism
As is so often the case in logistics, there is no way around a holistic approach in the area of sustainability. Sustainability potential can only be fully developed if as many processes, components and work steps as possible are included. Starting with careful quality checks and reuse strategies through cardboard systems and packaging materials to transport solutions, various optimizations are possible in order to save materials and reduce greenhouse emissions such as CO2. A key factor is always process optimization, in which resources are saved and employees are relieved. The use of big data management and artificial intelligence help identify optimization potential.
2. Returns management – save resources with reusable solutions
Modern returns management includes a multitude of processes such as internal deliveries, storage, disposal and repair transports. As a link, a reusable transport container system can help to save resources. Led in the summer of 2019 Loxxess such a reusable transport container system at the Bor location near the Czech-German border. Instead of the previous cardboard containers, the new plastic containers can be used for up to 60 transport cycles and thus for 7 to 9 years. The reusable containers are made of easily recyclable plastics. This makes it possible to make new ones from melted down, old plastic containers, thus avoiding waste and ensuring resource efficiency.
3. Save plastic on packaging material
Reducing packaging material is always a promising way to save CO2 and resources. Avoiding plastic is especially important. It not only harms the environment and pollutes oceans. It also negatively affects the climate. When processing returns, Loxxess completely dispenses with plastic air cushions as protective packaging for sensitive goods and instead relies on recycled waste paper. This not only protects goods just as reliably as air cushions, but can also be easily disposed of after use and returned to the recycling cycle.
4. Sustainable returns management: Include transport solutions
In addition to considering the processes in the warehouse, there are also a few adjusting screws that can be turned in the transport sector in order to achieve more sustainability. Powerful transport optimization software can make network transports and round trips more efficient. This also applies to returns management, because goods have to travel many times over when processing returns. Technical adjustments to trolleys, for example, can make a significant contribution to efficient transport. With a higher car capacity, truck loading areas are optimally used, fewer journeys and therefore fewer CO2 emissions are incurred.
5. Refurbishment instead of destruction of goods
According to estimates by the Returns Management research group at the University of Bamberg, 490 million online retail items were returned in Germany in 2018. The goods are often destroyed. A decisive factor in reducing waste and protecting the environment and climate is therefore refurbishment, i.e. the overhaul and repair of products for the purpose of reusing them. For example, Loxxess processes telecommunication products in a professional manner. Technical devices, smart cards, accessories, cables and modems are looked after by Loxxess over the entire life cycle, and returned items are checked, cleaned and reconditioned. Loxxess also assesses and tests electronic items for e-commerce customers and returns them to the market after a positive evaluation. If devices are no longer suitable for sale, they will be donated where possible in consultation with the customer. As a result of the refurbishment, fewer new devices are required, and there are no greenhouse gas emissions during manufacture and disposal of the products. Garbage is avoided.
The examples show: Sustainable returns management is possible with a little good will and know-how. It is also true that it is not only retailers and logistics service providers who are called upon to expand the range of refurbishment services and refrain from destroying goods. We also need a more comprehensive socio-political process of sensitization and rethinking in our modern consumer society.
Also read: Returns management – Trusted Returns adds logistics to the platform.
Dr. Claus-Peter Amberger, CEO of Loxxess AG. The company specializes in complex outsourcing projects in industrial and trade logistics. Image: Loxxess