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Amazon Accused Of Destroying Returned Goods

by: Rosie Dalton | 2 years ago | News

Image: an Amazon worker sorting through inventory. Image source

There is an insidious underbelly that pervades the retail sector today and it relates to what happens to deadstock inventory when it cannot be sold. Fast fashion retailer H&M is thought to have a horrific $4.3 billion worth of unsold inventory, for example – and the Swedish retailer has even been accused of burning some of that deadstock. And now Amazon has become the latest retail giant accused of destroying goods.

According to a report from business weekly WirtschaftsWoche and news show Frontal 21, Amazon is allegedly destroying “massive amounts” of as-new and returned items in Germany. Fortune points out that the retail behemoth has actually been destroying returned “health and personal care” products for quite some time now – citing sanitary reasons. But that these latest goods go well beyond makeup, to also include big ticket items like washing machines, furniture and smartphones.

“This is a huge scandal,” said Jochen Flasbarth from the German environment ministry. “We are consuming these resources despite all the problems in the world. This approach is not in step with our times.” Meanwhile, Amazon hit back with claims that sometimes manufacturers and vendors ask the company to destroy faulty goods on their behal, rather than taking back that flawed stock.

The company went on to add that it is committed to minimising waste wherever possible and has reportedly implemented various channels through which to meet this goal. Some returned items are sold-on through Amazon Warehouse, for instance, while others are recycled or donated to charity.

But the company declined to comment on just how much inventory it actually does destroy and what this process looks like. Which has prompted Greenpeace’s Kirsten Brodde to point out that there is now a need for a new “law on banning the waste and destruction of first-hand and usable goods" in order to better manage the unseen impact that deadstock is having on our planet.


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