124,000 products destroyed in a week: this is how products returned or not sold on Amazon end
Where does that product end up that you return to Amazon? What about the ones that are not sold? According to a recent ITV News research, e-commerce giant “destroys millions” of those products every year in their UK warehouses.
The revelation it’s surprising but not new, and already in the past reports appeared that showed the same type of processes of massive destruction of products in France O Germany, where just a month ago Greenpeace returned to report these practices.
Millions of products destroyed per year
A former Amazon employee with the pseudonym ‘Peter’ was interviewed by ITV News to report these practices. According to this medium, Peter had been documenting for months “the incredible amount of unwanted inventory that goes to recycling plants or landfills.”
Exclusive: Amazon is destroying millions of items of unsold stock in one of its UK warehouses every year, an ITV News investigation has uncovered.
— ITV News (@itvnews) June 21, 2021
These processes are shown in photos and videos on your mobile in which you can see how there are televisions, laptops, razors, drones, books or masks that They are mostly new and redistributable, but they are labeled “Destroy”.
In one of the captures there is a spreadsheet that shows how the objective for one of the weeks of last April is shown was to destroy 124,000 objects.
In another image you can see how the merchandise destined to be destroyed is apparently loaded into a truck that the ITV News investigation team was in charge of following. That truck arrived at a recycling center but he left there just a minute later without having downloaded anything.
Instead, investigators say, the truck ended up unloading part of the merchandise at the recycling center, part later, but “non-electrical products ended up in a landfill“.
A subsequent interview with one of the managers of an Amazon storage center gave these researchers the opportunity to ask if this practice was carried out. That clerk, named John Boumphrey, responded that the amount of products destroyed “was extremely small”.
At Engadget we have contacted those responsible for Amazon, who have indicated that their priority “is to resell, donate to charities or recycle any unsold product. Items are not sent to landfills in the UK, as a last resort such items are sent to power generation programs, but we are working hard to reduce this amount to zero. We are committed to reducing our environmental footprint and developing a circular economy program with the goal of reducing returns, reusing and reselling products, and reducing disposal. “
Unsold products cost manufacturers a lot (a lot) of money
According to some analysts, the reason is that both manufacturers and businesses they do so that “exclusivity is maintained”, causing those products to continue to have that perception of scarcity that makes them (more) valuable.
Another reason put forward to explain this type of practice is the cost of storing these products. In an investigation carried out in France it was discovered that Amazon charges 26 euros per square meter of space to store its products, but that amount it ends up being 500 euros for that same space six months later and 1,000 euros after one year.
At that time, one of the interviewees indicated how Amazon charged his company 20 euros to return the product but only 14 euro cents to destroy it. If the products are not sold, explained the person in charge of one of the brands that sold their products on Amazon, they end up not having many options: keep storing them or have them returned to them is much more expensive.
At this point – not confirmed by the company – Amazon spokespersons indicate that the company “works actively to avoid product waste. We develop and provide sellers with demand forecasting tools and we combine them with programs that improve the management of unsold goods. This includes the Amazon Warehouse program offers for used products, returned product clearance, donation of specific products to charities, and recycling programs. “
A practice reported multiple times in the past
CNBC conducted a similar investigation at the end of 2019 and released a video showing how each year Amazon and other stores end up with millions of unsold products that end up sending directly to landfills or incinerating.
That video was published a few months after Amazon announce the launch of A program called Fullfillment by Amazon FBA Donations. This project was precisely about take advantage of unsold products by donating them to charitable organizations in the United States and the United Kingdom.
These findings make clear the clear negative impact that these types of practices can have on the environment. Greenpeace already denounced these activities in mid-2019– One of your employees “infiltrated” an Amazon fulfillment center in Winsen, Germany, and discovered how part of the unsold products actually ended up being destroyed.
At that time, Amazon spokespersons indicated that their objective was “to reduce returns globally, reusing and reselling products, and destroying the least possible. Only if there is no other option (for example, due to hygienic reasons or because they are damaged) we will send those products to be recycled […], to energy recovery plants, or to landfills as a last resort. […] In fact, the number of products sold and shipped by Amazon that we need to destroy is well below 1%.“.
A DW investigation revealed in February 2020 how transparency is a problem in this area. Approximately 70% of the products that are returned are reconditioned and sold “like new”, but “there is very little transparency about what happens to the remaining 30% of the products“.
The same problem was detected in October 2020 on Amazon Canada, where an investigation carried out by Marketplace revealed that “products in perfect condition are […] destroyed or sent to landfill. “
In that investigation they even ended up hiding GPS sensors like AirTags to know where those products ended up. They partnered with the Basel Action Network, a Seattle NGO that investigates this type of behavior, and found that of the 12 products they tracked, only four were resold, and some, like a backpack, ended up in a landfill.
Amazon spokespersons indicate in statements to Engadget that the company’s goal is for its customers to “be completely satisfied with each product they buy. If that were not the case, the vast majority of the inventory returned resold to other customers or liquidated through third parties, returned to vendors, or donated to charities, depending on condition“Industry sources also tell us that Amazon works with organizations such as the Red Cross and the Food Bank, to whom they donate products and are part of that effort.
Image | Screenrant