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Reverse logistics in humanitarian operations: challenges and opportunities

Umberto Peretti (Department of Management and Engineering, University of Padova, Vicenza, Italy)
Peter Tatham (Department of International Business and Asian Studies, Griffith Business School, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia)
Yong Wu (Department of International Business and Asian Studies, Griffith Business School, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia)
Fabio Sgarbossa (Department of Management and Engineering, University of Padova, Vicenza, Italy)

Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management

ISSN: 2042-6747

Article publication date: 3 August 2015

2575

Abstract

Purpose

Whilst implementation of a broad range of reverse logistics (RL) practices is increasingly the norm within commercial supply chain management, they have had limited impact in the humanitarian logistics (HL) sector. The purpose of this paper is to analyse the challenges and opportunities for the application of RL in a HL context.

Design/methodology/approach

Through a broad review of both the academic and practitioner literature, supplemented by informal discussions with senior humanitarian logisticians, the paper summarises the current state of RL within the HL sector before recommending ways in which practices that are increasingly found in a commercial context could be implemented.

Findings

The findings indicate that, to date, the use of commercial RL practices is extremely limited within the HL sector, but there are a number of areas where their introduction be possible in the future.

Research limitations/implications

Whilst the reviews of the literature were comprehensive, further and more detailed research into the RL practices (if any) undertaken by aid agencies needs to be undertaken in order that appropriate lessons and experiences can be implemented across the sector as a whole.

Practical implications

Given the overall desire of humanitarian agencies to “do no harm” it will be increasingly important for such organisations to embrace RL practices in order to improve the sustainability of their disaster preparation and response activities.

Social implications

In light of the generally increased awareness of the need to reduce the environmental footprint as well as improving the social and economic impacts of their supply chain activities, there is likely to be increasing pressure on aid agencies to adopt RL practices. This paper identifies some of the potential areas in which this can be undertaken, and the associated barriers to be overcome.

Originality/value

To date, it would appear that no academic research has been undertaken into the RL practices within the HL sector. To this extent, the research represents a first look at a new sub-topic within the overall HL field.

Keywords

Citation

Peretti, U., Tatham, P., Wu, Y. and Sgarbossa, F. (2015), "Reverse logistics in humanitarian operations: challenges and opportunities", Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management, Vol. 5 No. 2, pp. 253-274. https://doi.org/10.1108/JHLSCM-07-2014-0026

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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