Elaine Watson UK grocery retailers are losing hundreds of millions of pounds every year on returned products, logistics experts have warned. And that figure is likely to grow as the multiples move further into the non-food arena, with high value white goods and electrical equipment an increasing part of the mix. Throwing unwanted goods on a skip or stockpiling them in the backroom is no longer viable on commercial or environmental grounds, said Tablogix, which is working with Tesco on automating its reverse logistics or returns management. All Tesco's returned goods are now collected from RDCs and taken to a central depot in Birmingham for assessment, repair and redistribution, said Tablogix business development director Phil Morgan. Tablogix then sells the goods on Tesco's behalf through channels including an online auction. Although some companies were so protective of their brands that they wanted their goods destroyed rather than put back in the marketplace, said Morgan, stricter rules on waste management were forcing them to take a new approach. "Increasing EU legislation on waste management and who takes responsibilty for disposing of goods is going to push reverse logistics up the agenda." Consignia, which handles returns management for Safeway with partner Return Logistics, said a huge amount of space and capital was tied up in unwanted goods sitting in retailers' backrooms and depots. "There are still companies out there with no proper systems in place to handle returns," said a spokeswoman. "And we are talking about millions of pounds worth of stock. In many cases, returned products only have minor faults and can quickly be put back into the retailers' distribution system." {{NEWS }}