New legislation may require all appliance manufacturers and brand owners to take responsibility for end-of-life (EOL) collection and recycling of products. The senior manager government relations for Whirlpool Corporation (Whirlpool) was updating his colleagues on Ontario’s proposed extended producer responsibility (EPR) legislation. Whirlpool was the Canadian market share leader in household appliances such as clothes washers, dryers and cooking ranges. With EPR Whirlpool, among others, would now have to manage – or pay to manage – a more complex model involving reverse logistics. Each appliance manufacturer had at least three options from which to choose: it could argue the legislation was unnecessary, it could join an industry-funded organization (IFO) to meet EPR’s requirement, or it could set up its own IFO.
Students will have to assess the current political uncertainty and determine what appropriate action is required. The case not only explores the issues of reverse logistics, but also the long-term effect of design and manufacturing decisions on end-of-life product management. This case also looks at the marketing and strategic opportunity that can be captured through proactive end-of-life product management.