The sustainable third-party reverse logistics provider (3PRLP) selection, as the core of sustainable supply chain management, has become paramount in research nowadays. In the actual evaluation process, the decision makers may hesitate in a few linguistic terms and have different partiality towards each term, hence the possibility distribution based hesitant fuzzy linguistic term sets (PDHFLTSs), as expressed by a consecutive or non-consecutive linguistic term set, is suitable for such an evaluation. The purpose of this paper is to solve sustainable 3PRLP selection problems with linguistic information by developing an effective and robust method. We firstly redefine the covariance-based correlation coefficient that can simplify the computation to calculate the consensus degree, and then introduce the hesitant degree in context of possibility distribution information, in order to enrich measures of PDHFLTSs. On this basis, the weights of experts are computed for expression aggregation. Secondly, to overcome attributes’ weights staying constant, the combination of group utility function and variable weight approach is introduced to give the weights of attributes. Most importantly, a decision method, called MULTIMOORA, is optimized by improving the ranking position method, and then, through the combination with PDHFLTS, we proposed a possibility distribution based hesitant fuzzy linguistic MULTIMOORA method with great robustness. At last, the presented method is applied to the field of sustainable third-party reverse logistics provider selection in the e-commerce express industry and the effectiveness is verified by several comparative analyses.
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