Supply Chains For Refillable Containers Xerox Copy Print Cartridge Return Program

Xerox introduced its program for copy/print cartridge returns in 1991 and, currently it covers 80 per cent of the toner/print cartridge line. In 1998, Xerox expanded the program to include the recycling of waste toner from high-speed copier and commercial production publishing systems. The return rate for cartridges in Europe and North America was greater than 60 per cent for 1998. This equates to over 2.86 million kilograms of material remanufactured or recycled just from cartridges. Xerox reports avoiding almost 23 million kilograms of landfill because of its re-use programs. The cartridges are designed for remanufacturing and recycling of materials not fit for remanufacture.

Customers return the cartridges by placing the spent cartridge in the packaging used for a full cartridge and attaching a pre-paid postage label provided by Xerox. The returned cartridges are cleaned and inspected, and then parts are re-used or materials recycled. The full cartridges are then distributed through normal distribution channels to customers. The final cartridge product containing remanufactured parts or recycled materials is indistinguishable from cartridges containing exclusively virgin materials. Figure 40.1 shows the supply chain, in simplified form, for a cartridge. Xerox is currently testing the use of 'ecoboxes' to allow bulk returns from high-volume users in Europe. Xerox will arrange for regular pick-ups of the boxes by its own carrier network. A bulk returns process allows each high-volume user to batch cartridges and may lower the returns costs absorbed by Xerox. (The information in this section was obtained from Xerox 1999.)

Figure 40.1 A closed-loop supply chain for cartridge re-use Kodak Single-use Cameras

Kodak started its program to re-use its single-use camera line in 1990. The first stage of the program was to redesign the cameras so that parts could be re-used and film reloaded. The entire line of single-use cameras may be remanufactured or recycled and the amount of materials per camera that are re-usable range from 77 to 80 per cent. The second stage involved forging agreements with photofinishers to return the cameras to Kodak after consumers had turned them in for processing. Kodak now enjoys a return rate greater than 70 per cent in the USA and almost 60 per cent worldwide. Since 1990, Kodak has reused over 310 million cameras, and has active programs in over 20 countries.

The process flow for the re-use of cameras, after the sale of the camera, starts with the consumer returning the camera to a photofinisher to develop the film. The photofinisher then batches the cameras into specially designed shipping containers and sends them to one of three collections centers. Kodak has entered into agreements with other manufacturers (Fuji, Konica, and others) of single-use cameras that allow for the use of common collection centers. At the collection center, the cameras are sorted according to manufacturer and then by camera model. After the sorting operations the cameras are shipped to a subcontractor facility where the cameras are stripped of packaging materials, disassembled and cleaned. Some parts are routinely re-used, some are removed (batteries are always removed) and the frame and flash circuit board are carefully tested. These sub-assemblies are then shipped to one of three Kodak facilities that manufacture single-use cameras. At the Kodak facility, the cameras are loaded with film and a fresh battery (flash models only) and finally fitted with new outer packaging. The final product is now distributed to retailers for resale. The final product containing remanufactured parts and recycled materials is indistinguishable to consumers from single-use cameras containing no re-used parts. Figure 40.2 shows the supply chain network for re-usable cameras. (The information in this section was developed from Kodak 1999.)

Figure 40.2 A closed-loop supply chain for single-use cameras

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