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Search Downstream sustainability: the big reset for recycling in the U.S.

In recent years, consumers have become more concerned with the environmental and social impact of their purchasing behavior. To address these concerns, firms are improving the sustainability of their supply chains, from plan, source, make, deliver and even return, to reduce the natural and social costs of their products and services. The recovery of materials at the end of product life cycles has become a common focus and requires companies to carefully coordinate the return and recycling of their end-of-life products. Downstream partners that efficiently refurbish and recycle materials in compliance with regulations are therefore crucial to attain sustainability goals. Unfortunately, ensuring these recyclers adhere to proper sustainability standards can be difficult. Images of landfills full of discarded garments from known apparel brands frequently cause public outcries. Similar events affect electronic companies when branded products are found dumped or manually dismantled under dire conditions in developing countries.

PhD candidate Sytske Wijnsma writes about the fundamental changes to the system that are necessary to avoid these outcomes, and how the first step is in understanding the dangers of downstream violations.

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