February 24, 2015

Reducing Waste and Emissions in the Retail Supply Chain

Sustainable Reverse Logistics

Reducing Waste and Emissions in the Retail Supply Chain


The retail industry faces a large and growing challenge in managing the 3.5 billion products consumers return every year, resulting in financial losses as well as environmental impacts, including 4 billion pounds of waste and 11 million metric tons of carbon emissions. Return rates at brick-and-mortar stores are nearly 9%, and the overall trend continues to grow, especially as return rates for e-commerce are even higher, between 10-20% of all sales. While painful for retailers, returns have been absorbed as a cost of doing business, and until recently the environmental impacts have been “out of sight, out of mind.” Savvy retailers now have the opportunity to improve their recovery and reduce environmental impacts through smart use of data and analytics to efficiently find interested buyers for returned and excess inventory.

Optoro has developed an environmental impact model to quantify the environmental benefits retailers can achieve using sophisticated reverse logistics management systems. The model, built in partnership with a third-party consultant, Environmental Capital Group, and independently verified by specialists at the U.S. EPA and logistics provider C.H. Robinson, demonstrates waste reductions of up to 60% and savings in fuel-related carbon emissions of up to 31%. This white paper describes Optoro’s working model, including a case study with Groupon Goods, and explains how retailers of any size can assess the environmental impacts of their own reverse supply chains using this framework.

Download the full white paper below.