The vehicle routing problem with deliveries and pickups is one of the main problems within reverse logistics. This paper focuses on an important assumption that divides the literature on the topic, namely the restriction that all deliveries must be completed before pickups can be made. A generalised model is presented, together with a mathematical formulation and its resolution. The latter is carried out by adopting a suitable implementation of the reactive tabu search metaheuristic. Results show that significant savings can be achieved by allowing a mixture of delivery and pickup loads on-board and yet not incurring delays and driver inconvenience
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