E-commerce

Advancing the Circular Economy of Plastics Through E-commerce – Supply Chain Management Review

Summary

) and Suzanne Greene. For more information on the research, please contact the thesis supervisors.

We have a plastics problem

Plastic is one of the most common materials in the world due to its functional properties, low processing cost, and versatility. Over the last 70 years, the use of plastics has grown exponentially.

Most plastics are made from fossil fuels and are not biodegradable, meaning they will not break down naturally over a short amount o…….

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) and Suzanne Greene. For more information on the research, please contact the thesis supervisors.

We have a plastics problem

Plastic is one of the most common materials in the world due to its functional properties, low processing cost, and versatility. Over the last 70 years, the use of plastics has grown exponentially.

Most plastics are made from fossil fuels and are not biodegradable, meaning they will not break down naturally over a short amount of time and will continue to exist in their current form. The increased production of plastics has increased the demand for fossil fuels, resulting in an increase in greenhouse gases, which contributes to the climate crisis. The exponential production growth, short life cycle, and the harmful effects of plastics on the environment have created concerns around its waste-management process.

How many of us properly dispose of all the plastic we use in a recycling bin? Despite efforts to increase recycling over the years, the rate of recycling is significantly lower than that of plastics production. Out of all the plastics in the world, less than 2% truly contribute to a closed-loop supply chain. The low rate could be driven by a few factors such as lack of consumer awareness, lack of access to convenient curbside recycling, and lack of coordination among different supply chain stakeholders.

Millions of e-commerce deliveries each day

The e-commerce sector has grown dramatically in recent years, with increased penetration and accessibility across households in the U.S. The COVID-19 pandemic further accelerated this growth, with many of us relying entirely on e-commerce deliveries to meet our needs over the past year. Our research project focused on leveraging the e-commerce network to facilitate the closed-loop supply chain of plastics.

How will this work? With the rise of e-commerce, more and more packages are being delivered to people’s doorsteps. Today, the delivery driver drops off the package and goes back empty-handed. What if they could collect our recyclable plastics after the delivery and initiate the closed-loop supply chain of plastics? We designed a multi-stakeholder reverse logistics business model and conducted a break-even analysis to determine the optimal scenario where the plastics closed-loop supply chain model would be economically feasible.

Be part of the solution, not part of the pollution

In this model, the consumer cleans and returns the plastics after their next e-commerce delivery. The delivery driver picks up the used plastics and transports the plastics back to their respective warehouses. Since this is an existing route, no additional transportation cost is incurred by the e-commerce company. There is, however, a productivity loss as the delivery driver spends a few more seconds to handle the collected plastics. At the warehouse, the collected plastics from the different delivery vans are consolidated and shipped to …….

Source: https://www.scmr.com/article/advancing_the_circular_economy_of_plastics_through_e_commerce

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