Amazon is destroying unsold items by the millions

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Amazon is destroying unsold items by the millions
Some pretty startling information has just surfaced about some of the goings-on in one UK Amazon warehouse in Dunfermline, Scotland.

The report is based on an in-depth investigation performed by itv and first covered by AppleInsider. It seems that the British TV channel managed to penetrate into one of the largest of the UK's 24 Amazon fulfilment centers to see what happens to unsold items—and the answer is rather frightening. Itv caught extensive footage of bins upon bins of unused, unopened items marked "destroy" by the thousands.

A former employee who wishes to remain anonymous spoke about the daily process of collecting mountains of brand new products, high-end headphones, books, jewelry, laptops, "the occasional MacBook or iPad," all sorts of premium electronics, and hoarding them off to be dedicated to complete destruction. 


Amazon allegedly forces employees to aim for a target of 130,000 of destroyed items per week, and this only for the single distribution center that was investigated. Multiply that by Amazon's ~175 fulfilment centers, by the 52 weeks there are in a year—and the result is over 1 billion products leaving Amazon's warehouses yearly, to clog up landfills and add to the rest of the waste in the world.

When the (anonymous) employee was asked how he first felt when he was asked to participate in the mass destruction, he said, "I gasped. There's no rhyme or reason to what gets destroyed."


"50% of all items seemed to be unopened and still in their shrink wrap," the employee said. "The other half are returns, but in good condition."

The secret warehouse footage includes a shot of a manager's spreadsheet open on one of the computers, with some incriminating information from back in April. While the distribution center did donate 27,213 items in the week shown, it also destroyed 124,332 items—more than four times that number.

The explanation for this senseless waste seems to be pure economy: if vendors' items are sitting in the warehouse too long, unsold but accruing storage fees, it's more economical for the sellers to have them destroyed than to take them back (or, apparently, to donate them).

A truck loaded to the brim with thousands of items marked "electrical destroy" was tracked down on its hour-long route to a waste management center, where it disposed of the items. Another truck carrying non-electrical items also marked "destroy" was followed on its way to a landfill and recycling site. And these were only two of several outbound trucks scheduled for the day.

The shocking revelation went so far as to catch the attention of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who agreed that the matter needs to be looked further into. In any case, all of this flies directly in the face of Amazon's grandiose "Climate Pledge" that can be found on their website, stating that:

"We believe we have an obligation to stop climate change, and reducing carbon emission to zero will have a big impact. We want to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040, a decade ahead of the Paris Climate Agreement, and we are on a path to powering our operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025 as part of our goal to reach net-zero carbon."

Judging by the new discovery, this one of the world's most valuable companies is getting us no closer to any of its great green-Earth dreams.

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