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Closed Loop Supply Chains

There is a new paper on the OR Forum by Dan Guide and Luk Van Wassenhove that looks at the research trajectory of “Closed Loops Supply Chains”.  Closed loop supply chains are supply chains where there is at least as much interest in getting things from the customer to the supplier as vice versa.  Sometimes the drive for this is environmental (think European electronics laws to try to reduce metals in the refuse system) and some is economic (think of a printer manufacturer getting back used cartridges to try to cut down on the refill market, or firms that restore used items for further sale).  Luk and Dan’s paper is a nice, personal, view of the research that has gone on in the last years.

For about eight years (1997-2005), I headed up the Carnegie Bosch Institute.  Part of what we did was sponsor conferences and workshops on emerging topics in international management.  One of our success stories was early support for closed loop supply chains (or reverse logistics).  I am really pleased to see how the field has developed.