Of course, complying with the requirements associated with the federal government’s FSMA depend heavily on technology. “With the government reporting requirements for recalls, Web-based technology is critical to show notification, retrieval, and disposition process,” says Pepperworth.
“The other area of importance for technology in reverse logistics is monitoring from watch lists by store and product (UPC), financial reconciliation, and product disposition. This visibility is important for continuous improvement in the reverse supply chain,” he notes.
Keeping food products out of the landfill
Both Inmar and Reverse Solutions have extensive recycling programs to help keep material out of the landfills, and for food and beverage clients, this is a shared goal.
“We’ve gotten involved in composting food ingredients,” says Reverse Solutions’ Carroll. “That’s our latest venture. We have containers picked up on a regular basis.”
Reverse Solutions has been working aggressively to keep product out of landfills. According to the company, it has reduced its carbon footprint by redirecting all “not for sale, or not for donation” [qualifying] food containers, paper, plastic, metal, film wrap, wood, and glass to recycling rather than landfill, effectively reducing trash shipments by 90 percent, or 118,000 tons of materials.
“Product from recycled containers is now going to composting,” adds Carroll. “Our recycling efforts have been expanded to include client distribution centers and office buildings.”
Reverse Solutions’ e-waste end-of-life management activities have resulted in 1,500 tons of materials being diverted to recycling or grinding for use in manufacturing. “To us, end-of-life processing is not sending (material) to a landfill,” says Carroll.
Likewise, Inmar’s remarketing services kept 117 million pounds of grocery and consumer goods out of landfills in 2011. In addition, the company’s donation program on behalf of its clients provided 1.8 million boxes of food product that were used to create 5.5 million meals for the needy last year.
According to the company, this product would have otherwise been wasted. All told, Inmar liquidates approximately 1,500 truckloads of food product each year—lengthening the lifespan of each product and putting less into landfills.
In 2011, Inmar’s calculations showed that its sustainability initiatives helped convert 3.4 tons of waste to energy, saving more than 3,880 barrels of oil, generating 2,185 MWh of renewable energy, or enough to power 190 homes for one year.
Indeed, this is yet another area that is likely to become regulated. According to Green Lodging News, Massachusetts’ Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has proposed regulations that would ban commercial businesses, including hotels, from discarding food waste.
Greg Cooper, director of consumer programs for the DEP, expects the regulations to be implemented by the middle of 2014.