Billions of pounds of waste are generated through retail and ecommerce returns, every year! The solution is not just reverse logistics!

It’s an everyday scenario, you order something online, it arrives and for whatever reason you decide to return it. Nothing new there. The issue is what happens with it after you return it, where does it go and where does it end up?

Depending on where you are in the world, will determine where the goods you return, end up. It’s not uncommon for goods purchased in Australia to have come from the US or Europe. When you return them, that’s exactly where they go back. This is a global problem.

With 30% of ecommerce purchases being returned, billions of global items are moving around more than once, picture that in your head, billions of shoe boxes moving around, literally about 6000 Olympic swimming pools worth of shoes moving around the world!

Of these returns, a vast percentage end up in landfill, or are incinerated. Mainly because of the lack of foresight as to how to manage the channels effectively, resulting in returns mountains building up in warehouses, which eventually are written off and turned into waste.

Economically that’s a huge waste and major source of cost, but environmentally this is not only unsustainable, but having a seriously negative impact on areas of vulnerability (up to 20% of all industrial water pollution is caused by the dyeing of textiles in manufacturing, according to a 2016 report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature).

The answer is not simple.  It starts with looking at where returns end up, managing the secondary market as a priority inline with primary sales, engaging with parties who can aid with in country disposition and planning that in advance.  So, it’s not an afterthought and turning it from a cost to the business, but to a potential profit line!  Added to this, by listening and engaging with consumers, ecommerce providers are realising that the green pound is strong and people will spend their money with brands that reflect their sustainability credentials, not just their fashion sense.

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