Using U K Ports As Waste Consolidation Nodes in Reverse Supply Chains.

Using U K Ports As Waste Consolidation Nodes in Reverse Supply Chains.


Maria K. Triantafyllou, Coventry University


The regulatory and institutional arrangements of 50 UK ports are examined to identify their role as convergence points linking land/ship/activity-generated wastes with other supply chain actors and evaluate their competitive position against them


In early 1980s the UK ports industry experienced a series of radical changes in its organisational and ownership structures. This period was marked by the privatisation of former state-owned ports and the deregulation of the seaport industry. The new policy agendas and institutional arrangements across UK ports coupled to successive changes in market dynamics, new challenges in financial conditions and the imposition of stricter environmental obligations, have led to the diversification of traditional port functions in supply chains. Ports, especially major gateways, are no longer mere static points of interface between sea and land transport, but are becoming integral and vital nodes of distribution systems and core elements of value-driven chains.

Ports are integral elements of transport systems having roles that evolve with the evolution of logistics and supply chain concepts. The emergence of reverse logistics as a new viewpoint for supply chains gained note in the late 1990s and accelerated the movement away from the convention that the flow of goods through a supply chain ultimately ends with the consumer. This brought to the fore new policy initiatives concerning the recycling and recovery of end-of-life materials and the organisation of waste logistics. In response, ports integrated environmental plans and broadened waste management operations within and beyond their boundaries for the overall perspective of compliance and revenue. Their engagement in waste logistics activities has strengthened their status as convergence points linking outside flows and channels with various supply chain actors. Either as producers of land-generated waste, receivers of ship-generated waste or landlords leasing port facilities to various industries producing or treating waste, ports are now under increased pressure to develop efficient waste management plans and make appropriate collection arrangements with inland waste contractors for the overall perspective of compliance, performance and revenue.

On this basis, this paper will examine over 50 commercial ports in the UK to evaluate how current policy and institutional frameworks have influenced their strategic waste management and logistics planning and determine how port-centric approaches can enhance the antagonism between ports and inland locations in providing value-added waste logistics activities and in reducing the total number of required transits across reverse supply chains. A special focus will be given to the regulatory framework impacting the disposal, recovery, recycling and shipping of waste in UK ports, the different approaches in the development and implementation of strategic waste policies and the varying priorities set by ports that fall under one of the three dominant ownership structures present in the UK (private ownership, trust authority and municipal control). More specifically, analysis will focus on the investigation of waste logistics operations taking place in UK ports considering the nature and size of the ports, their strategic and tactical goals and priorities, their attitudes and commitments in relation to the environment and the community, the financial strength and backing of port authorities, and the scale and complexity of waste management operations in relation to the kind of passage, the amount and composition of the waste managed. The paper will also investigate whether strategic port plans come in agreement with the UK’s commitment to apply the principles of self-sufficiency, waste recovery prioritisation and disposal proximity at a national and if possible at a regional and sub-regional level and will examine how current waste operations and logistics functions in ports can create a window of opportunity for further innovation, and improved internal efficiency.


Association for European Transport