Supply Chain Implications of the Deposit on Returnable Plastic Bottles

Johanna Jacobsen

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

In this paper, I have examined the deposit scheme on one-way plastic bottles and its implications on the sustainable supply chain. I have performed this research in order to understand how the reverse supply chain of a deposit scheme on one-way plastic bottles works, how this affects waste management and whether this is Sustainable Supply Chain Management. This research will then answer the following research question: What environmental, social and economic implications does the deposit scheme on one-way plastic bottles have on their supply chain?
Firstly, I have performed a literature review on the topics of reverse supply chains and logistics and on deposit schemes on reusable packaging. Additionally, I have introduced the deposit schemes in Germany, Sweden and Denmark. In this literature review I have found that the main research done on reverse supply chains and logistics is done on returns management and that there is very little current research in the academic literature on deposit schemes on one-way drink containers in Europe. Thus, this paper is filling a gap in the academic literature.
Secondly, I reviewed the theory on the subject and established a Sustainable Supply Chain Management (SSCM) framework for the deposit scheme on plastic-bottles and found three propositions to answer:
P1: A deposit scheme on one-way plastic bottles is Sustainable Supply Chain Management.
P2: A deposit scheme on one-way plastic bottles is good sustainable business.
P3: The sustainable supply chain of a one-way plastic bottle is a closed-loop reverse supply chain.
In order to perform this research, I have done a comparative case study of the Danish and Swedish deposit scheme organisations by interviewing them and analysing the secondary data presented by them. I have then critically analysed these findings in order to analytically generalise on the deposit scheme of one-way plastic bottles and its sustainable supply chain.
I have found that both country’s deposit schemes have fairly high return quotas, in my opinion, and seem to be saving on energy and are decreasing waste and CO2 emissions. Furthermore, they both cover the SSCM framework as established by myself. However, there does not seem to be much risk awareness. The deposit scheme seems to be economically feasible as both organisations have a state monopoly. However, there was little data found on this subject. Furthermore, they also include many social and environmental aspects into their operations. In my findings, the reverse supply chain of a one-way plastic bottle with a deposit is depicted rather less detailed, than I expected, as it does not cover all the supply chains within the supply chain. Furthermore, possibly as the organisations know they have state monopolies they are not very risk aware.
In the discussion section of this paper, I point out how the research question is answered with finding mainly positive implications for the supply chain and how both organisations state they are the world’s best without saying why or how. Additionally, I am discussing the implications of having a deposit scheme on one-way drink containers as compared to simple recycling and also compared to the open-looped supply chain of the German deposit scheme. Furthermore, I criticise them for not being aware of risks as there are many changing circumstances, which they should be aware off and prepare for.
To conclude this paper, I find that the sustainable supply chain of a one-way plastic bottle is reverse closed-loop and relative. Furthermore, the implications on the supply chain are not only that it is a good sustainable business, it is also environmentally friendly and has many social implications. These social implications are much more dominant, than I initially thought. The deposit scheme on one-way plastic bottles in these two cases is, thus, sustainable in its supply chain and a circular economy and an example of Sustainable Supply Chain Management. I end this paper with presenting areas for further research.

EducationsMSc in Supply Chain Management , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2017
Number of pages78
SupervisorsBritta Gammelgaard