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Economic and Environmental Assessment of Remanufacturing Strategies for Product + Service Firms



This article provides a data-driven assessment of economic and environmental aspects of remanufacturing for product + service firms. A critical component of such an assessment is the issue of demand cannibalization. We therefore present an analytical model and a behavioral study which together incorporate demand cannibalization from multiple customer segments across the firm's product line. We then perform a series of numerical simulations with realistic problem parameters obtained from both the literature and discussions with industry executives. Our findings show that remanufacturing frequently aligns firms' economic and environmental goals by increasing profits and decreasing the total environmental impact. We show that in some cases, an introduction of a remanufactured product leads to no changes in the new products' prices (positioning within the product line), implying a positive demand cannibalization and a decrease in the environmental impact; this provides support for a heuristic approach commonly used in practice. Yet in other cases, the firm can increase profits by decreasing the new product's prices and increasing sales—a negative effective cannibalization. With negative cannibalization the firm's total environmental impact often increases due to the growth in new production. However, we illustrate that this growth is nearly always sustainable, as the relative environmental impacts per unit and per dollar rarely increase.