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Logistics systems for recycling: on the influence of products, structures, relationships and power
Linköping University, Department of Management and Economics. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8554-0687
2002 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The environmental trend, and environmental legislation, has during the past decade grown stronger, and with it the focus on environmental issues within many fields of research and practice. This has implications for logistics, and the focus in this dissertation is on the logistics systems that are needed to realise recycling of end-of-life products: logistics systems for recycling (LSRs). LSRs have been studied regarding two parts; the collection and the post-collection system.

To identify influence of physical components (product properties and structures of LSRs) and co-operative behaviour (relationships and interorganizational power) on effectiveness and efficiency of LSRs, four studies of different parts of the LSR were conducted, comprising all the roles shown in figure I. The cases comprised paper and electronics recycling.

The findings of the research suggest the following:

  • Product complexity, variety and handling properties can restrict the possibilities of reaching effectiveness and efficiency in LSRs through economies of scale. The value of both recycled paper and recycled electronics can under certain conditions be influenced by the effectiveness and the efficiency of LSRs.
  • The material flow structures of the studied LSRs are converging, and cost effectiveness as well as capacity efficiency can be increased through co-ordination between LSRs and forward logistics systems.
  • Mutual long-term ambition and longer time frames of contracts in vertical relationships between actors in the same LSR can improve their performance. Horizontal relationships between actors of different LSRs provide opportunities for attaining higher effectiveness and efficiency.
  • Power bases identified as influential for the performance of LSRs were not only relative to size and ownership, but also to expertise on logistics and recycling, and superior information access. Trust building and power use co-exist in LSRs, but intentional trust building was more visible in short term relationships in legislation driven recycling of low and volatile goods volumes, than in market/technology driven recycling of large and stable goods volumes.

The relatively high importance of high customer service levels over low costs in collection LSRs for legislation driven recycling, where goods volumes are small and volatile, was identified. A model was introduced comprising a second decoupling point, where the logistics strategy would shift from agile to lean; at the recycler, instead of at the point of the end-customer, something which is generally perceived in the literature.

The physical components and co-operative behaviour of LSRs can both reinforce each other's influence on the performance of LSRs, or counteract each other's effect.


  • Product standardisation increases handling efficiency in an LSR and facilitates the recycling process, and it can also facilitate horizontal co-operation, thus increasing LSRs' effectiveness and efficiency.
  • Co-ordination between LSRs and forward logistics systems and horizontal co-operation can enhance the effectiveness and the efficiency of LSRs.


  • A high level of logistics as well as product knowledge can enhance the efficiency and the effectiveness of LSRs, but the two competencies can also counteract with one another.
  • High and stable goods volumes promote high efficiency and cost effectiveness but may also lower the managerial efficiency within the system.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköpings universitet , 2002. , 198 p.
Linköping Studies in Management and Economics. Dissertations, ISSN 0347-8920 ; 53
Keyword [en]
logistics systems, recycling, products structures, relationships, power
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-34672Local ID: 22489ISBN: 91-7373-283-4OAI: diva2:255520
Public defence
2002-03-27, Sal Planck, Campus Valla, Linköping, 10:15 (Swedish)

The dissertation consists of two volumes: this second volume and the licentiate thesis (Huge Brodin, 1997, Reverse Logistics Systems - an Interorganisational Perspective, Focusing on Paper Recycling, Linköping Studies in Science and Technology, Thesis No. 630)

Available from: 2009-10-10 Created: 2009-10-10 Last updated: 2015-06-02

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