A reverse supply chain for reusable goods is a viable solution to keep goods out of the landfill, but what does resolving the First Mile Problem look like in practice? Working with graduate students from Portland State University’s School of Business, we set out to explore its feasibility, by studying the real-world context of existing collection systems for trash and recycling in a specific Portland, Oregon neighborhood.
Solving the First Mile Problem, or how to get reusable goods into the market and out of the landfill, isn’t a faraway goal — it’s achievable and cost-effective today using a geography-based reverse supply chain. To test this idea, I worked with a group of graduate supply chain management students at Portland State University’s School of Business to prove out the operational feasibility study.
The U.S. needs a new solution, and an additional channel, to collect reusable goods from homes and back into a usable market. Otherwise we can’t get out of our current channel situation, where materials that are in good condition, and of value to other people in our society, will continue going to the landfill. This is the First Mile Problem: How can we maximize the collection of reusable goods and get them into a reverse supply chain channel — a first mile of collection — and do so in a cost-effective manner?