How Lenovo is Using Reverse Logistics to Create a Better Environment for the Future

Climate change and green solutions are at the forefront of the strategies of many businesses who take their environmental responsibilities seriously, and Lenovo is using its own reverse logistics supply chain to do its part for the planet.

Technology companies such as Lenovo have a huge impact on the environment. From the plastics and other materials which go into making electronic items to the enormous amount of packaging which is required to ensure their products reach their destinations in perfect condition, the potential for waste is great.

Lenovo is already ahead of the curve in this regard, using approximately 92 million pounds of recycled plastic in products and packaging between 2006 and 2016, and have been recognized in the Corporate Knights 2018 Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World.

However, not content to rest on these laurels, Lenovo is now looking at closed-loop post-consumer recycled plastic (CL-PCR) as a way to build an even more sustainable brand.


The term CL-PCR refers to recycled plastic which has been sourced specifically for electronic devices. The "closed-loop" comes from the fact that the plastics involved begin their life in electronic devices and are then recycled back into the same, or similar, products.

Historically, companies such as Lenovo have used recycled plastic from non-electronic sources (plastic bottles, clothing fibers etc.), and good results have been achieved. But in experimenting with CL-PCR, the company hopes to reduce its environmental impact even further.

After brainstorming this new initiative, Lenovo is ready to begin putting its CL-PCR strategy into practice.

"We surveyed our supply chain to measure readiness to support this initiative and worked with potential suppliers on the technical requirements of introducing CL-PCR material into Lenovo products," said Lenovo Corporate Packaging Engineering Manager, Royal Bai. "The Lenovo R&D team provided support on material and product performance testing. CL-PCR plastic must meet the same stringent performance standards that apply to other plastics used in our products to meet our durability and quality standards."

So - where does Lenovo's reverse logistics supply chain come in?

The Lenovo Reverse Logistics Supply Chain

To fulfill its ambition of making the use of CL-PCR ubiquitous across its business, Lenovo has come up with two innovations to help its consumer and business customers play their part in closing the recycling loop.

A take-back program is now in operation which allows consumers and business customers to return Lenovo products once they have finished with them. Through sponsored partnerships with regional logistics groups (such as Reverse Logistics Group Americas for the US market), customers can arrange a free recycling solution with shipping costs included.

Customers simply visit the Lenovo website to see which recycling options are available in their area and arrange a collection for their unused electronic products.

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For business customers, Lenovo offers an Asset Recovery Service - a more complete end-of-life solution for defunct electronic equipment. The initiative includes PC take-back, data destruction, and refurbishment, as well as the all-important CL-PCR recycling services. Businesses have specific needs when it comes to end-of-life electronics, and Lenovo's program looks to offer an all-in-one reverse logistics solution, which also feeds into the company's CL-PCR program.

On top of this, Lenovo is making extra efforts to promote its reverse supply chain services and other green initiatives via outreach programs.

"Lenovo's sustainability efforts stretch beyond the production line, it's woven into the fabric of our culture," said Bai. "In the week leading up to Earth Day 2018, employees at the North America headquarters in Morrisville, North Carolina have played host to several events on campus to promote green habits, including a Farm to Table event, tree sapling giveaway, and electronics recycling drive. As a global company, it's our social responsibility to the worldwide community to implement sustainable practices which are better for the environment."

Final Thoughts

It's easy to view the reverse logistics supply chain as being entirely for the purpose of facilitating returns and refunds for consumer products. However, by thinking outside of the box and leveraging the power of its own returns infrastructure, Lenovo is not only creating a more efficient and sustainable business model but is also doing its part towards a greener and more environmentally responsible technology industry.

You can hear Lenovo's Excess Inventory Management Executive Kirstin Neira speak at Consumer Returns 2018 this October at the Sheraton Grand Nashville, TN.

Download the agenda today for more information and insights.

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