Article | California Management Review | spring 2003

The Growing Strategic Importance of End-of-Life Product Management

by Michael W. Toffel

Abstract

Requiring manufacturers to manage the their products when they become waste is an innovative form of regulation, one that has been adopted by countries in Asia, Europe, and North America on a variety of products that range from vehicles to appliances to batteries. However, even in many unregulated industries, some manufacturers are voluntarily assuming more responsibility for their end-of-life products, driven by customer demand and cost efficiencies. This article explores various forms of take-back regulation and highlights some of the key features of the institutions that emerge in response. In addition, six strategic product recovery alternatives are presented, followed by a discussion of some factors managers should consider in developing a take-back strategy.

Keywords: Managerial Roles; Product; Innovation and Invention; Cost Management; Demand and Consumers; Strategy; Governing Rules, Regulations, and Reforms; Environmental Sustainability; Manufacturing Industry; Asia; Europe; North and Central America;