An Exploratory Analysis of Reverse Logistics in Flanders
This paper reports on a reverse logistics survey of shippers and logistics service providers in Flanders, one of the leading logistics regions in Europe. We characterise the reverse logistics activities with respect to return reasons, recovery options, outsourcing, lifecycle length and value of products. Practically all the respondents have to deal either with shortlife cycle or low-value products, or both, stressing the importance of efficient reverse logistics handling. Yet, in spite of the increasing attention that reverse logistics is receiving in management literature, its full potential still appears to be under exploited in practice. Respondents consider reverse logistics processes to be out of control, especially for packaging and support materials and still with relatively modest management attention. In addition, we assess the future outlook and potential growth. Almost all companies expect an increase of management attention for reverse logistics, and the results show a large potential with respect to third party service providers, including decision support tools in this area. Furthermore, we examine the underlying causes of the relatively low reverse logistics performance and point out issues that need improvement.