In recent years there’s been a rapid expansion of regulations around product recycling, not least the EU’s Waste Electric and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive. ERP suppliers are starting to address the issue in their solutions and SAP has released details of how it is supporting Panasonic’s recycling efforts.
SAP’s Recycling Administration application helps manufacturers comply with worldwide product end-of-life regulations but it’s also aimed at making the recycling process more efficient and less costly by classifying recyclable materials by type, weight, usage, destination, brand and category. The whole process is integrated with SAP’s ERP solution so that it can support countries with different compliance requirements.
Panasonic says that using the application has saved it 15% of recycling costs. The company is continuing to roll out the application throughout its European offices and is currently using the solution for 50 different compliance schemes.
The recycling compliance challenge is growing, particularly in North America. More than 30 US states and Canadian provinces have some legislation for e-waste recycling and large retailers are demanding that manufacturers report detailed information about the sustainability status of their products and packaging. Non-compliance could result in fines, competitive disadvantage or brand damage.
You know a business issue has become a mainstream concern when SAP integrates a solution into its ERP software. SAP tends to react to demands rather than create markets, so there is already green ICT software out there to help manufacturers. But most of the large companies will already have an ERP solution, very likely SAP, so a module integrated with existing software from a mainstream provider has added appeal.
There is, though an increasing number of compliance issues around sustainability, from energy and water use to emissions monitoring and waste and recycling management. It’s doubtful whether they can all be effectively supplied to a variety of industry sectors by one vendor, so there will be plenty of room for competition – particular specialist suppliers – for the foreseeable future.