Emerging markets, business models, information technology.
This case is designed for MBA groups or students from MSc in Management, International Business, Logistics, Information Systems or Environmental Management programs. It can be covered in courses on Strategy, Process Management, International Business, Process Management, Supply Chain Management and Managing Information Systems.
Returpack is a Hungarian company dealing with reverse vending machines (RVMs) that collect aluminum beverage cans, even in crushed form, based on a worldwide technology innovation. All RVMs are online and monitored and managed remotely. RVMs are mainly “fed” by the poorest, often homeless people, who are still motivated by the extremely low (less than 1 euro cent for a can) incentive that comes from the selling of the aluminum waste to recycling smelters. Based on the success of the business model in Hungary, projects were planned in the USA, Austria, Romania, and Turkey in 2013. However, beyond economic, legal and cultural challenges, a dramatic decline in the global aluminum waste prices early in 2014 questioned the return on investment at these projects. Advancements in the material-recognition technologies at waste sorting plants raise further questions.
Expected learning outcomes
Evaluating the business model innovation in the case by combining the different approaches of the business model concept with the knowledge on the recycling industry, the crowdsourcing method and the Internet of Things. Based upon this, students may identify and evaluate options for implementing the business model in and adapting to new markets, also by simulating these changes in a formal (numerical) business model.
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CSS 11: Strategy
The authors would like to express their highest appreciation to Dr László Duma, founder and CEO of Returpack Ltd. for his ongoing availability, support and suggestions during the preparation of this case study. Special thanks are given to CEEMAN and Emerald for promoting further improvements of the case study during the publishing process.
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