How to win friends and influence people

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Trade bodies should initiate a review of the inbound and outbound flows of materials and goods within their sectors, to identify opportunities for logistical efficiency gains.

That’s one of the conclusions of a new report by the UK All Party Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group on driving resource efficiency across supply chains. It clearly seems to assume that no-one in logistics has ever given this a thought before.

Malory Davies FCILT, Editor.

Malory Davies FCILT, Editor.

The report, not unreasonably, argues that the UK needs to move towards a system where the entire supply chain of products moves towards the circular model. “The old model of make, use, dispose cannot continue, and this is true of all sectors in the UK, not just the environmental services and waste industries.”

It argues that the logistics industry has put too much focus on inbound operations and too little on returns and waste.

But, as supply chain professionals know only too well, there have been plenty of initiatives on returns and waste issues over the years – notable Efficient Consumer Response, the IGD-supported group that focuses specifically on these issues.

In 2012, for example, ECR UK reported on two initiatives to reduce waste in the UK supply chain. A scheme to prevent supply chain waste achieved savings of some 70,000 tonnes. And a second scheme diverted some 195,000 tonnes of waste away from landfill.

And in November last year ECR UK research highlighted the opportunities to reduce wasted road miles, including shared services, flexible flow and tailored transport.

There are lots on interesting proposals in the All Party Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group report (see below). But you can’t help thinking that they would find it easier to win friends and influence people if they had recognised the work that is already being done in this area.

Link to Link: Driving Resource Efficiency Across Supply Chains
Report by the All Party Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group (Click here to download the full report)


  1. Government should conduct a call for evidence on the state of play of resource efficiency in UK companies and determine the barriers that are preventing UK companies from becoming more resource efficient.
  2. Guidelines embedding resource efficient practices should be developed for UK central and local government procurement for goods and services, focusing (for example) on procurement of refurbished and remanufactured goods, or to favour recycled goods over products made from virgin raw materials.
  3. Government should engage fully with the European Commission in the ongoing revision of the Ecodesign Directive, working with other Member States to incentivise more resource efficient product design, specifically around resource conservation, waste minimisation, resource recovery/reuse and remanufacturing.
  4. Government should not only continue to support remanufacturing, but extend its funding beyond the Scottish Institute of Remanufacturing to develop another focus in England along the lines of a Design and Remanufacturing Catapult centre. Fiscal incentives (such as a reduction in VAT) should also be explored.
  5. Government should develop guidelines to promote the implementation of ‘Lean and Green’ manufacturing standards deployed at manufacturing level, such as waste reduction, total quality management and just-in-time, to improve the company triple bottom line performance.
  6. Trade bodies should initiate a review of the inbound and outbound flows of materials and goods within their sectors, to identify opportunities for logistical efficiency gains (for example, minimising journeys with empty trucks).
  7. Government should work with industry across broad categories of products to develop voluntary agreements, ecolabels, and behaviour change campaigns that can encourage constant improvement and innovation in delivering resource efficient supply chains.
  8. Businesses should set up communications across their supply chain to assess the key areas where improvements in resource efficiency can have the biggest impact, and put measures in place to deliver improvements in these areas. Improvements are needed in particular in the communication between manufacturers and logistics providers to ensure return of products within more circular business systems such as extended producer responsibility.
  9. Government should work with local authorities to incentivise collaborations such as the Newbury Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRc) that consists of both recycling points and donation points. These donation points are run separately but in parallel to the HWRc by organisations that refurbish and reuse donated products.
  10. Government should commence the process of establishing a comprehensive material flow framework for the UK, integrating domestic extraction, imports, recycled and reuse flows, and recyclate/product outflows. On the strength of this, raw material conservation and resource efficiency targets should be set for the UK. The option of setting a separate reuse/remanufacturing target should be assessed, to promote these activities.
  11. The British Standards Institution (BSI) should develop a more integrated sustainability index focussing on the whole supply chain, addressing all stages in production of products.
  12. Government should support SMEs in achieving resource efficiency measures in a way that is cost-effective and deliverable. However, measures to reduce red tape for SMEs should
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