Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Moore School of Business


Business Administration

First Advisor

Mark Ferguson

Second Advisor

Michael Galbreth


The traditional linear production system where products are created, used, and then disposed of is no longer a viable business model for many firms. A combination of growing populations, increases in consumerism, and urbanization are placing unprecedented pressures on our world’s natural resources. In addition to these motivations, strong demands from consumers and governments are requiring companies to reevaluate and prioritize their environmental strategies. Fortunately, there are several opportunities for firms to engage in more sustainable business practices throughout their entire supply chain, particularly at the end of their products’ useful lives. However, moving from a linear model to a more closed-loop production system where products are recovered and reused brings a host of operational challenges, some of which remain unaddressed by the current literature.

In this dissertation, we examine a series of common, operations-related issues firms and government agencies face when pursuing sustainable waste management practices. In the first essay, we evaluate noted barriers operations managers face when entering the market for refurbished products. In the second study, we analyze the effectiveness of environmental legislation and consumer education efforts in promoting product reuse and recycling. In the last essay, we develop a robust consumer returns forecasting model to aid operations managers in their inventory, reverse logistics, and return recovery decisions. In addition to academic contributions, the results from these studies offer practitioners guidance needed to facilitate the transition to more circular production models and increase the number of sustainable, operations-enabled opportunities for reducing product waste.


© 2017, Erin C. McKie