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About a Third of the Items Returned to Amazon are Destroyed in Order to Save Time and Space

Amazon is an American multinational technology company which primarily focuses on e-Commerce, cloud computing, digital streaming, and artificial intelligence. They are often referred to as one of the most influencial economic forces in the world. But did you know this e-Commerce giant prefers to dispose of the items returned to their warehouses than keep them?

To save time and space, about one-third of the items returned to Amazon are destroyed. In a more recent update, the retail giant said that they are working towards zero product disposal and prefer to donate or recycle unsold or returned items.

What Happens to Items Returned to Amazon?

It’s never been easier to return an online order. It is frequently free for the customer, and some retailers even allow customers to keep the item while providing a full refund. Amazon returns can be dropped off at Kohl’s, UPS, or Whole Foods without packaging or even printing a label.

However, the records of returns filling warehouses after the holidays have a different side.

From all those returns, there’s now nearly 6 billion pounds of landfill waste generated a year and 16 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions as well,” That’s the equivalent of the waste produced by 3.3 million Americans in a year.

-Tobin Moore, CEO of returns solution provider Optoro

Moore claims that online purchases are three times more likely to be returned than store ones. According to forecasts in a new analysis from the National Retail Federation, a record $761 billion in items will be returned in 2021.

According to the report, 10.3 percent of the returns were false. Meanwhile, Amazon third-party sellers told CNBC that around a third of returned items are thrown away.

Somebody has to pay for that. It’s falling back on either Amazon or the third-party seller. It comes out of their bottom line and inevitably makes prices go higher.

Micah Clausen, Reseller and Owner of Iconikal

UPS forecasts a 10% rise in returns for the 2021 holiday season compared to the previous year, resulting in increased trash, and expense for all online businesses.

At the forefront of the pack, Amazon has come under fire for destroying millions of products. Now, Amazon claims it’s moving toward a goal of zero product disposal. It created new programs last year to provide sellers like Clausen more alternatives for reselling returns or sending them to be auctioned off on the liquidation market.

When an item can’t be sold as brand new, Amazon provides sellers four alternatives for handling returns: Return to Seller, Disposal, Liquidation, or Fulfillment by Amazon Grade and Resell.

Zero Product Disposal Plan

When you choose the Return to Seller option, the return leaves the Amazon warehouse for some time with additional legs on a truck, plane, or cargo ship. It returns to the seller for further processing, then to another Amazon warehouse for sorting and repackaging, before being sent to a new buyer, who can always return the item.

Returns from many of the largest online merchants frequently end up in the trash. Amazon told CNBC in a statement,

No items are sent to landfill. We are working towards a goal of zero product disposal, and our priority is to resell, donate to charitable organizations or recycle any unsold products. As a last resort, we will send items to energy recovery, but we’re working hard to drive the number of times this happens down to zero.


(Source: CNBC)

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