Your company’s brand, with its unique combination of messaging and design elements, helps to distinguish your products in a highly competitive marketplace. When your brand works, your products stand out for all the right reasons. As a result, businesses invest a lot of time, money and effort into finding just the right logo, font, tagline and color palette to best represent their brand. Of course, brand visibility can backfire if your company is associated with poor quality goods or bad publicity. Many businesses neglect one crucial element of building a successful brand — making sure obsolete goods affiliated with your company don’t fall into the wrong hands. Some counterfeiters have even gone so far as opening copycat retail stores overseas, such as counterfeit Apple stores — there’s no limit to what’s been tried.
Opportunists are eager to use and sell what may end up in the waste your brand generates. Hence why even luxury brands burn overstocked and defective items. One of the best ways to protect your brand is by securely disposing of any expired promotional items or food, surplus or damaged goods and branded packaging. Secure disposal of obsolete products and packaging not only protects your brand, it is good for the environment and enhances your reputation with consumers and business partners
For these reasons, obsolete goods connected to your company’s image should be slated for disposal when no longer in circulation. These items include expired promotional items like kids’ meal toys and discount cards, limited release items and damaged goods. Because these items are strongly affiliated with a company’s brand, they make particularly attractive targets for unscrupulous entrepreneurs looking to make a quick profit reselling your goods on e-commerce platforms like Amazon and eBay. Materials related to seasonal discounts should also be slated for destruction. Destroying expired food and recalled items is even more critical, because these items can pose safety and health risks if they are not removed from circulation as quickly as possible.
Now is the time to get started with an obsolete destruction program. Manufacturers stock inventory months in advance, so warehouses are already filling up with holiday items, movie tie-ins and other promotional goods. However, recent surges in COVID cases have created uncertainty for retail stores, restaurants and other public venues, at least in the short term. Taking steps now to securely dispose of your surplus and expired goods and related packaging can help your business weather any uncertainties introduced by COVID-19.
Unless you take steps to destroy unwanted materials, items that include logos or other design elements affiliated with your brand can be pirated and duplicated. For example, those old cups that held your pumpkin spice lattes can be coopted by bad actors looking to appropriate your brand elements for their own benefit. This kind of intellectual property theft is especially troubling because it steals the very elements that make your brand unique and memorable. The consequences are even more serious when your brand elements are used to sell inferior products and knockoffs. The image of street vendors selling imitation Ray Bans and fake Gucci bags has become something of a standing joke among consumers, but theft of your brand elements is no laughing matter when your reputation as a provider of quality goods is at stake.
Initiating a formal destruction program for your obsolete goods has enormous advantages from a security standpoint when done properly. Designating personnel to oversee the process ensures that items are destroyed in accordance with strict disposal guidelines and jurisdiction requirements. Certificates of destruction provide compelling documentation that can be especially helpful during an audit, particularly if you are disposing of items that contain sensitive information. For companies that have a national presence, working with vendors that maintain a large network of providers ensures readily available assistance regardless of location, while companies that export products outside the U.S. can benefit from the more rigorous chain of custody procedures available at domestic facilities.
Though many obsolete items require destruction, some materials can be salvaged or recycled. One manufacturer diverted cases of expired citrus concentrate to an anaerobic digestion facility and turned unwanted surplus into an alternative energy source. Other businesses have successfully reclaimed materials to reuse in production of new goods or recouped some of their expenses by selling materials as recyclable commodities. Diverting these materials from landfills has some tremendous benefits for the environment, including reduced fuel consumption, as well as reductions in energy consumption and incremental greenhouse gas emissions.
Protecting your brand, getting rid of unnecessary goods and promoting sustainability are among the many benefits of obsolete destruction and recycling. You can ensure secure disposal by using qualified vendors who can oversee the destruction of unwanted items, divert recyclable commodities from landfills, and in some cases, consolidate services and billing. Taking steps to implement a secure waste management program might not be the most glamorous aspect of your brand, but it’s definitely one of the most important.
A.J. Dilenno is senior director of procurement at RWS Facility Services.
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