Supply Chain Product Recycling

​Incorporating destruction in the field, responsible recycling into supply chain operations

By Tom Chick
Vice President National Accounts
Technical Transportation, Inc

It's not a step in the supply chain that most manufacturers think about with a new product launch or go- to-market strategy. But plans for efficient and sustainable product destruction – once product has reached end-of-life – should be a crucial component of any logistics program. Thinking strategically about these vital processes will help minimize the cost impact to a manufacturer when a product inevitably reaches the end of its life. In fact, many organizations have been looking for better ways to realize cost saving in this area of their supply chain.

Recognizing these trends, our own team at TechTrans has enhanced its suite of offerings to ensure a seamless process that follows product all the way through to its end-of-life. For companies on the verge of a new product rollout, or considering phasing a product out of the market, here are some things to keep in mind.

Uncompromising attention to detail where it counts most

For manufacturers in some industries, such as healthcare and life sciences, regulatory agencies require proof of destruction and specific disposal processes due to the nature of the products handled. A valued partner will have the expertise to ensure products are properly disposed of and will offer thorough documentation of their processes. TechTrans can offer a certificate of destruction to be shared with the customer/ COD order within 24 to 48 hours.

For some companies, decontamination is also a critical issue, yet can be very costly. Since this is a mandatory, yet non-revenue generating function, it often makes sense for manufacturers to partner with a logistics team that can manage the costs of this process and reduce revenue loss on products that are no longer in use.

Localized operations mean increased efficiency and savings

When a product reaches end of life, most manufacturers are faced with the expense of either deploying in-house teams to destroy and dispose of the product, or ship it back to headquarters. By working with a logistics partner who has local resources, you can eliminate the expense of returning product to the manufacturing facility. In fact, on average manufacturers can realize a 33% savings by disposing of product in the field instead of shipping retired product back to headquarters.

Furthermore, when you use the same logistics team to manage your resources in the field through the entire lifecycle, tremendous economies of scale can be built into the supply chain. This means manufacturers can avoid additional costs that go into training or building processes each time a new vendor touches the same product.

Enhancing green initiatives

Thinking globally but acting locally is a standard mantra for sustainable solutions, but is also a good rule of thumb for your disposal solutions. Keeping things local also makes destruction in the field a green initiative.

After destruction, product should ideally be transferred to a local recycling center. By incorporating regional recycling processes into the supply chain, a logistics partners can help keep the manufacturer's expenses to a minimum. It also assists in reducing the overall carbon footprint by minimizing fuel use and diesel exhaust from long haul trips.

As technology advances and a product's shelf life exponentially shortens, incorporating sustainable end-of-life plans for products will become even more important.

Protecting brands — and people — through proper disposal protocol

Planning for destruction and disposal also provides assurance against user abuse. For example, if a hospital purchases a new piece of equipment and sells the older model on the aftermarket, the healthcare manufacturer may find its latest technology competing against its older products.

Planning ahead for proper disposal and recycling procedures strategically reduces this liability for the manufacturer and ensures its brand promise remains intact with the end customer. It also ensures product is taken out of the field that may no longer be protected by warranties or automatic upgrades.

If you're interested in learning about how TechTrans can ensure an efficient disposal and recycle process for your decommissioned products, contact us today.