ITV News has reported that Amazon is destroying millions of unsold items each year—books, TVs, laptops, drones, headphones, computers, thousands of packaged COVID face masks are all among the waste. Undercover footage of Amazon’s Dunfermline warehouse in the UK from ITV News shows these items sorted into boxes marked “Destroy,” inn order to minimize storage costs.
Said an anonymous ex-employee to ITV News, “From a Friday to a Friday our target was to generally destroy 130,000 items a week. I used to gasp. There’s no rhyme or reason to what gets destroyed . . . Overall, fifty percent of all items are unopened and still in their shrink wrap. The other half are returns and in good condition. Staff have just become numb to what they are being asked to do.” The employee said that in some weeks, as many as 200,000 items could be marked “destroy,” while only a fraction of that number would be marked “donate.” (One week in April showed over 124,000 items marked “destroy,” while just 28,000 were marked “donate.”)
Another employee came forward to corroborate the first employee’s account and confirmed the Dunfermline warehouse wasn’t the only warehouse producing waste at this scale: “We got rid of brand-new books, [brand-new iPhones, PlayStations.] In every single facility it happens, trust me, it does. I worked in one specific facility, but I knew other people who worked in others and they said exactly the same thing.”
Amazon has denied sending any products to landfills in the UK in statements to ITV and The Verge and claims the landfill ITV identified is a recycling site (despite the “destroy” labels). Said Amazon in the statement, “We are working toward a goal of zero product disposal and our priority is to resell, donate to charitable organizations or recycle any unsold products.” Amazon told The Verge less than one percent of its products are incinerated for energy generation.
Looking at the ITV News footage, it’s hard not to think of all who could benefit from those products marked “destroy.” Those books could bring joy to schools, hospitals, prisons; those laptops could help students in need who required laptops for remote learning this past year. Not to mention the environmental unsustainability. As Philip Dunne, chairman of the Environmental Audit Committee, told ITV News: “[This] is a truly astonishing degree of waste of resources. And if true, it is a scandal that Amazon has got to address.”
[h/t ITV News]