Reverse Logistics

Are different rules really needed?
by Ken Holloway

Last month, USDOT PHMSA issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. We blogged about this on July 5th and you can read that post here.

This notice asks for comments. This is your chance to make your opinion known. Comment or accept what others think is best for you and your company.

The stated purpose is to “identify possible ways to reduce the regulatory burden on retail outlets that ship consumer products containing hazardous materials in the reverse logistics supply chain”. Remember, what DOT or any other government agency thinks is better or easier may not always be better or easier. The IRS 1040EZ Form is 2 pages but comes with a 42 page instruction booklet.

This rulemaking deals NOT only with retail companies but consumers. Most consumers do not have any idea that what they want to return might be hazardous in transportation. Many consumers would not think twice about the little bit of fuel in the broken chainsaw they want to return.

Speak up before October 3, 2012 or someone in your company, probably a customer service person, may be required to do additional work. Think about if we really need a new set of rules applicable only to “reverse logistics”. Our feeling is that we already have all the regulations in place but just need to tell consumers what to do when they ship hazardous materials back to where they got them from.

The Hazardous Materials Regulations already require all offerors of hazardous materials to follow the regulations which includes training of hazmat employees. Shouldn’t the seller be responsible for providing instructions and necessary shipping materials to safely return the product they sold or otherwise transported to consumers? Who is more knowledgeable – the consumer or the company who shipped the product to the consumer? If the consumer wants a refund or replacement, they normally contact whomever they bought the product from. Normally, customer service provides a return authorization and instructions on how to return the product. Our company believes that the product customer service group should provide the necessary instructions to return the product safely makes the most sense.

Here is a link if you want to comment on this rulemaking.  Safety Specialists will be submitting comments based on discussions with our customers.  If you like to discuss this with us, please let us know and we will be happy to discuss this with you.