Reverse Logistics: An Investigation into Policies and Practices in The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

  • Mohammed Alnuwairan

Student thesis: Phd


Reverse logistics has become a part of many governmental agendas in developed countries. It offers enormous opportunities in reducing the negative impact on the environment from industrialization and the enormous quantities of waste produced by industry and households, as well as saving material resources. The recovery of used products and materials is receiving growing attention as a result of limited landfill and incineration capacity. However, the evolution of reverse logistics initiatives in developing countries is relatively slow, indicating that there are still huge obstacles and concerns that need to be explored. The main aim of this study is to investigate the reverse logistics practices in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). The key forces of reverse logistics in more developed countries are compared with those in the KSA context. In particular, the current legislative framework and reverse logistics operations are evaluated against best practices in order to identify opportunities for KSA industries to improve their reverse logistics operations. For this purpose, qualitative research using a case study approach has been designed to collect data from different government agencies and thirteen organizations in KSA. These organizations were drawn from the oil, petrochemical and metal processing industries, all of which provide potential for the closed loop supply chain applications which are widely practiced outside KSA. Secondary data collection, direct observation and semi-structured interviews were conducted in order to facilitate comparison with the literature. A conceptual framework was developed from the literature. A template analysis approach was employed to analyze the gathered data. The framework was then applied to the research context to establish an overall view of the reverse logistics process as well as the key forces that influence the implementation of reverse logistics in KSA. The results revealed that the implementation of reverse logistics in KSA is at an early stage, with the exception of the oil processing industry. Applications of reverse logistics appear to be driven mainly by economic factors and are highly dependent on the capability provided by third-party logistics service providers. Supply chains tend to operate as open loops with recycled/reusable products being supplied to secondary markets and/or locations outside KSA. Furthermore, the adoption of best practice is hindered by the country's logistics infrastructure and by local legislation that does not appear to encourage waste recovery or promote the awareness or control of the reverse logistics process. Both government and industry need to collaborate to implement best practice in reverse logistics in KSA. Economic and environmental benefits can be achieved, especially through improved infrastructure provision, legislation and reverse logistics design. This study makes several contributions to knowledge. First, the framework and strategies will make an important contribution to the literature of reverse logistics by identifying the key forces, represented in a force field analysis diagram; and to general reverse logistics operations in developing countries in general and in Saudi Arabia in particular. Secondly, the findings identify further studies for reverse logistics in KSA and, possibly, for other emerging countries with a similar context. Thirdly, this study is distinguished from existing empirical work on reverse logistics in developed countries as it examines the framework in the context of KSA, and may be applicable to other developing countries. Fourthly, the study motivates changes in practice as it provides recommendations and guidance for practitioners and leaders on how to apply the best practices of reverse logistics in different sectors.
Date of Award1 Aug 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorNathan Proudlove (Supervisor) & Stephen Eldridge (Supervisor)


  • Reverse Logistics, Green Supply Chain, Drivers, Barriers, Saudi Arabia

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