This section discusses the results considering the literature. The section is divided into three topics: Knowledge about reverse logistics, internal barriers, and external barriers.
5.2. Internal Barriers
For the government, the main barrier is related to the fact that reverse logistics is neglected in relation to other issues, such as financial ones, corroborating the barriers identified and presented in the study of Abdulrahman et al. [16
], who exposed the importance of RL in relation to other issues and Bouzon et al. [17
]. Some studies emphasized the need of reverse logistics to be supported in terms of financial resources, considering that it should be maintained and should be feasible in terms of cost and revenue management. While reverse logistics of post-consumption allows, clearly, long-term environmental and social gains, it may not be attractive to companies due to the financial issues.
The government recognizes that financial issues must also be prioritized during the implementation of the RL, by presenting in the second place the initial operational cost barriers, which encompassed the barriers involving high costs, high cost of legal disposal, lack of initial capital and financial resources. Thus, this result confirms the barriers presented by Prakash and Barua [20
], Bouzon et al. [17
] and Gardas et al. [21
Additionally, the respondents from the government highlighted other important barriers that can interfere in the full implementation of reverse logistics in Brazil: (i) Need for adaptation in organizations; (ii) complexity of this adaptation; and (iii) low development of technologies aimed at recycling, which are barriers related to infrastructure.
Respondents are also aware of the subject when they note that these three barriers may be related, since organizations need to adapt to follow the recommendations of the legislation that determines how the new model should be—including RL practices—and that this adaptation has a level of complexity, which can be higher or lower.
When recognizing that there is a low development of technologies, it is possible to refer to the main internal barrier identified in the category of decision makers from government: The recognition of the importance of RL. If there is no such recognition, there may not be an investment or the search for technologies that assist RL practices. The absence of demand for these technologies may not encourage their development; thus it can create a vicious circle in organizations.
From the point of view of micro and small enterprises (technical assistances), the most relevant internal barrier, ranked in first position, was the lack of economic incentives and investments. So, analyzing only the prioritization of barriers with the application of CPP, this financial barrier showed up among the main positions of the ranking.
However, when analyzing the comments of the respondents of this category, it is observed that they reinforced and corroborated the main barrier presented in the ranking, as they presented others related to cost, incentives, directed public policy, and meeting what was identified by Bouzon et al. [18
] that everything is related to cost.
The lack of economic and investment incentives may represent the absence of policies in this area, the existence of preferential tax policies and financial restrictions are present in the process of implementing reverse logistics, and were barriers indicated in the literature. Thus, they confirm the studies by Abdulrahman et al. [16
], Prakash and Barua [20
], Bouzon et al. [17
], Demajorovic et al. [44
], Souza et al. [65
] who identified these barriers. For micro and small companies there is coherence between the other four main barriers, as they are related to each other and involve management, structure, and technologies of organizations.
In addition, the lack of routine of collection service represents, in this study, the absence of a structure to collect e-waste, which is complemented by the lack of waste management practices. Indeed, with limited forecasting and planning of waste management and the lack of organization of reverse channels—in the context of the research as mentioned earlier—it represents the absence of organization of the reverse channels that would enable the reuse, recycling, and remanufacturing of products.
From the point of view of consumers, the lack of waste management practices would be the main obstacle, reinforcing the barriers identified in the studies by studies by Abdulrahman et al. [16
], Prakash and Barua [20
], and Bouzon et al. [17
]. It appears that this is the main obstacle for consumers, because most factors are internal to organizations; thus the absence of practices is more tangible. Moreover, if the consumer notices this absence, he may feel unmotivated to separate and deliver his waste, generating in consequence another barrier for RL.
Consumers indicate that the organization’s policy and the organization’s lack of interest in implementing RL can hinder the process or reverse logistics, respectively, in the second and third positions in the ranking of priorities. When indicating that the organization’s policy is a relevant barrier, consumers ratify the barrier presented by Abdulrahman et al. [16
], Demajorovic et al. [71
], Prakash and Barua [20
] and, Deus et al. [66
In addition, they confirm the other barriers that related to the previous one, such as the lack of policies for reverse logistics practices and the policies of organizations that are against RL, which were presented by Sirisawat and Kiatcharoenpol [19
] and, Bouzon et al. [17
Because of these internal factors, consumers are only aware of what organizations explicitly demonstrate. There is a connection in the most important barriers for consumers: The consumer realizes that there are no RL practices whether it is not disclosed by organizations or because such practices are not found in an easy way. In this way, the consumer can infer that this absence is due to internal politics, which the consumer is unaware of, or the absence of interest in changing. Depending on the profile of the consumers (if environmentally responsible), it can result in a negative perception of the corporation and can, in the long-term, damage the corporate image.
Consumers agree with the respondents from technical assistance that the absence of economic incentives and investments is a barrier and also agree with the respondents from government that there is a need to adapt the system of organizations when implementing RL processes.
Thus, in the context analyzed, considering the perceptions of decision makers of this study, the management or organizational and the infrastructure barriers are the most difficult to overcome in the implementation of reverse logistics of e-waste in Brazil.
The results, in general, differ between the three profiles of decision makers, which can be considered as normal considering that they represent different points of views and, consequently, have different interests and priorities as found by Demajorovic et al. [44
], when analyzing conflicting points of views among manufacturers, distributors, and commerce. This difference is expected, since the levels of knowledge and focus of decision makers are different [46
]. In addition, it is common to obtain different results involving groups of decision makers [59
compares the five main internal barriers identified in the three studies and their respective categories.
As shown in Table 6
, in each category of decision makers, only one financial barrier was identified. For the government, the financial barrier was in the second position (there is a high initial and operational cost for implementing the RL). For consumers, it appears in the fourth position (lack of economic incentives and investments). In turn, for technical assistance, the lack of economic incentives and investments is the first barrier, of a financial nature.
It can be inferred that the government has a long-term view and that legal issues, which it proposes and regulates, would assist implementation. In the view of the government, the legal aspects are not seen as obstacles or barriers; instead, they are a first step to implementing some practice, which denotes a perception that values the reactive posture from companies and society. On the other hand, the micro and small size companies (technical assistances) are more interested in operational issues (structure and management) and concerned with the related costs of the entire process, which corroborate the results found by Souza and Vieira [47
]. However, in the case of reverse logistics, due to the irregularity and unpredictability of the volume and demand, it is difficult to estimate the total amount of costs involved. As previously presented, there is a low development of technology (recycling/recovery), which can make the available technology more expensive and not attractive to organizations, especially for the micro and small size companies.
As presented by some consumers, internal issues of companies are difficult to judge, because they are not visible and perceptive by consumers, and also because some of them have no experience with issues related to logistics and handle, for example, only the outside point of view. These comments may also indicate why financial barriers have not been indicated as relevant to consumers.
As identified, according to the ranking of each category of the three perspectives analyzed, financial barriers are not the main obstacle to the implementation of reverse logistics, nor the most important, since only one of the first five barriers pointed out in each category of decision makers had a financial nature. This result differs from the results of studies identified in the systematic literature review in which financial barriers were identified as the most influential in the implementation of reverse logistics, using MCDA methods [17
Moreover, we diverge from the study by Bouzon et al. [18
], which also analyzed three perspectives of decision makers (government, large organization, and consumers), and which identified that the financial barrier was the most relevant. The difference can be explained by the fact that, in our study, the decision makers are dealing with second-hand EEE, besides the consideration of the perspective of respondents from micro and small size companies. Another difference is related to the method chosen for this study, which is non-compensatory (without trade-offs) by nature, considering that that is not desirable in this context and does not require the assignment of weights for the criteria.
As presented by Guarnieri [54
], the decision maker’s rationality can lead him to accept or not the trade-offs present in the decision. When opting for the progressive and pessimistic scenario, the rationality of the decision makers became non-additive, the trade-offs are not accepted, since the scenario aimed at maximizing all the criteria, which represented the barriers. Non-compensatory methods, such as those from the outranking approach, present a more balanced result, considering it requires that all alternatives present an adequate performance in all criteria considered in the decision-making process.
Thus, the choice of rationality, the scenario, and the method applied can justify the difference in the results, since Bouzon et al. [17
] used AHP, which is compensatory. Other authors also used additive methods in the same context, such as Sirisawat and Kiatcharoenpol [19
], and Prakash and Barua [20
], which combined AHP with TOPSIS in their studies, both methods belong to the multi-attribute utility approach, which accepts trade-offs between criteria.
5.3. External Barriers
In relation to prioritized external barriers, the government group recognizes and corroborates the literature, stating that there are gaps in legislation and that these hinder the implementation of the LR. As identified by Demajorovic et al. [44
], companies take advantage of gaps in legislation to avoid being held responsible, which goes against the concept of shared responsibility for the product’s life cycle, one of the principles of the legislation related to BPSW, according to which everyone involved in production and consumption is responsible for its proper destination. However, that the BPSW does not indicate clearly the limit of responsibility for each stakeholder involved and this gap is used by them to not be held responsible [44
]. Related to the perception of respondents from government, it seems that organizations are aware of the BPSW and other legislation demands. According to them, companies can seek knowledge and try to understand all the nuances of legislation to identify its gaps. However, instead of this, according to authors such as Guarnieri et al. [8
], the gaps on legislation can damage the decision making process related to the implementation of e-waste, because the stakeholders can implement only the minimum established by law, and when it is not clear how to proceed some stakeholders simply do anything because they cannot by restrained legally. This issue motivates a reactive behavior from some stakeholders, which expect to implement some practices only by law.
Consumers pointed out that, in addition to the lack of environmental education, the lack of knowledge about taxation of returned products is an important barrier from their point of view. While it is a cultural barrier, it is related to the financial barrier IB 9 (when implementing the RL there is no sharing of costs and responsibilities) and, in a way, converges with the government’s vision.
However, the view of micro and small size companies differs from the other two stakeholders but corroborates with literature that the absence of a sectoral agreement for the reverse logistics of electronics is the main obstacle in the implementation. However, this barrier may have been in the process of being overcome, considering that, on October 31, 2019, after our data collection, the sectoral agreement was signed by the Ministry of the Environment and by entities representing the electronics sector [76
]. However, it is still in the early stages of implementation and does not present any measurable outcome.
The mentioned agreement can minimize some of the barriers identified by the stakeholders, such as the absence of information on the taxation of returned products, since it proposes that the cost of the reverse logistics system will be included in the total cost of the product and can be informed in the invoice as an observation. Another barrier that can in the long-term be overcome is the absence of environmental education programs, since the sectoral agreement proposes the communication plan and non-formal environmental education [77
summarizes the main external barriers and their categories
Analyzing Table 7
with the five main barriers identified in each study, it is possible to perceive that the government and consumers have similar points of view. Both pointed out three barriers—all cultural in nature—as external barriers to be prioritized, but with different importance.
The results of the perceptions of the three categories of decision makers converge by recognizing that cultural barriers are external obstacles, since the five barriers inserted in this category are at the beginning or in the middle of the three rankings. As presented in the studies analyzed in the systematic literature review, there was no category of cultural barriers, so we propose this barrier to be considered in further studies, considering that regional differences should be taken into account to implement private and public policies related to reverse logistics, such as environmental education, socio-productive inclusion of waste pickers, and the culture to donate and save the EEE at the end-of-life, among others.
In addition, all respondents agree, by giving low values to the statement “the consumers’ perception of reverse logistics is negative”, that consumers do not have a negative perception of reverse logistics, which demonstrates that, in fact, they may be willing to buy EEE from companies that come from reverse logistics processes, such as the refurbished and reconditioned ones.