As the amount of electronic waste is increasing every year, a new law was enacted in 2015, which obliges electrical manufacturers to take back a part of the sold devices from the consumer in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way in order to close the circular economy. Not only this law, but also resource recycling are factors why many electrical manufacturers want to take back the end-of-life products. This poses great challenges for many companies to comply with the legal requirements and at the same time gain a benefit from the take-back. Sustainability and environmental awareness are important criteria for consumers when making purchasing decisions.
The following case study illustrates the process of an environmentally responsible take-back system to ensure the end-of-life cycle of products.
Next-Step GmbH is a medium-sized electrical manufacturer, with a varied product portfolio. The innovative printers are established on the market and offer further growth potential. In order to comply with legal waste regulations, Next-Step GmbH has to make strategic decisions. At the same time, the company also wants to profit from these decisions and derive added value from them. Management is therefore faced with the following challenges.
1. how can we take back our sold products in an environmentally friendly way and therefore close the circular economy in the best way?
2. how can we create added value for the company at the same time?
3. how do we transport these end-of-life products or waste?
4. which legal regulations exist in which country?
Next-Step GmbH has decided to offer a so-called take-back program for the old electrical items in order to close the circular economy. With the support of experts, the following scenario was worked out: A major customer wants to buy a new printer from Next-Step GmbH, but doesn’t know how and where to dispose of his old printer. Next-Step GmbH can take back and recycle the old product through the take-back program. The offer also applies to the toner cartridges used for printing. Many people do not know how to properly dispose of the empty cartridges in an environmentally friendly way. By implementing this take-back program, Next-Step GmbH offers customers an attractive service. In addition to relieving the environment, sustainable management can be achieved by recovering raw materials. The end-of-life products are recycled in order to reuse the most valuable materials. Not only the raw material recovery is an advantage for Next-Step GmbH, also the green image is very important in today’s world and takes a key role in the market. Through environmentally friendly behavior, a company can gain a decisive competitive advantage and stand out from the competition in order to retain existing customers and attract new ones.
The introduction of such a take-back program is now certain at Next-Step GmbH. However, the company lacks the necessary know-how for implementation. In addition to the lack of framework conditions, the company faces many other questions. In which countries do they want to offer the take-back program? Which carriers are legally authorized and certified to transport waste and end-of-life products? For these reasons, the management decided to hire an experienced service provider who has the necessary knowledge and the required logistics network.