Amazon UK allegedly destroys millions of unsold items a year, including Apple products

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A new report has revealed that Amazon destroys millions of unsold stock items each year in the UK, including unused and unopened Apple products like AirPods, iPads, and MacBooks.

Credit: CNN
Credit: CNN


The undercover investigation, which was carried out by media outlet iTV News, gathered footage of merchandise slated for destruction at 24 fulfillment centers around the United Kingdom.

According to iTV, the scale of the waste includes computer drives, books, sealed face masks, top-tier headphones, and drones. Reportedly, nearly 130,000 items a week are organized into boxes marked "destroy." Eventually the items are dumped into bins and shipped to recycling centers or landfills.

"I used to gasp. There's no rhyme or reason to what gets destroyed: Dyson fans, Hoovers, the occasional MacBook and iPad; the other day, 20,000 Covid (face) masks still in their wrappers," an Amazon employee told iTV News.

There doesn't appear to be anything wrong with the products, either. The Amazon employee said that about 50% are unopened, while the other half are returns that are still in good condition.

"Staff have just become numb to what they are being asked to do," they said.

Amazon also appears to donate some items. however, it does so at a much smaller scale. At a warehouse in Dunfermline, about 28,000 items were labeled for donation during one week in April. That's compared to 124,000 items marked for tossing in that same period.

The practice is a result of Amazon's business model. Many vendors choose to store their goods at Amazon warehouses. If those products remain unsold, Amazon charges them for storage. Eventually, it becomes cheaper to simply dispose of the merchandise.

An Amazon spokesperson told iTV News that the amount of stock that the retail giant destroys is "extremely small."

"We are working towards a goal of zero product disposal and our priority is to resell, donate to charitable organisations or recycle any unsold products. No items are sent to landfill in the UK. 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," Amazon said.

iTV News reached out to members of the U.K. government -- including Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Officials said they would "look into it," and are considering regulations around reuse and recycling for items like electronics.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 29
    mknelsonmknelson Posts: 786member
    Energy Recovery = burned in a power plant.

    CBC Marketplace did an episode on this subject last year: 
    dysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 29
    So much waste. Destroy unused products rather than put them to use through charity. I mean I understand capitalism and all and having a sticker price, but it seems so wasteful to destroy a perfectly functional  product rather than let someone else use it, even if for free. Just my opinion. 
    DogpersonBeatssconosciutoseanjAlex_Vdysamoria
  • Reply 3 of 29
    hmlongcohmlongco Posts: 299member
    I mean, if there's a right way and a wrong way for Amazon to do something... do they EVER choose the right way?
    baconstangDAalsethDogpersonBeatsseanjAlex_VdysamoriaOferFileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 29
    darkpawdarkpaw Posts: 199member
    Reportedly, nearly 130,000 items a week are organized into boxes marked "destroy." Eventually the items are dumped into bins and shipped to recycling centers or landfills.
    Actually, that's 130,000 per week per distribution centre, and that 130,000 is a target for the staff to reach. All so Amazon can get another 130,000 items in stock.

    Also, Amazon claim nothing is sent to landfill. You even quote them later in the article: "No items are sent to landfill in the UK." Though, I guess they could ship it overseas so it's not a "landfill in the UK".

    An Amazon spokesperson told iTV News that the amount of stock that the retail giant destroys is "extremely small."
    Oh, well that's alright then... I only killed one of your children.

    Seriously, this fupping company. Cancel Prime. Sell your Kindle and Echo devices. Delete your account. Amazon is only as big as it is because we put it there, and we can put it somewhere else.
    DogpersonBeatsseanjOferFileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 29
    flydogflydog Posts: 965member
    darkpaw said:

    An Amazon spokesperson told iTV News that the amount of stock that the retail giant destroys is "extremely small."
    Oh, well that's alright then... I only killed one of your children.

    Seriously, this fupping company. Cancel Prime. Sell your Kindle and Echo devices. Delete your account. Amazon is only as big as it is because we put it there, and we can put it somewhere else.
    Yeah because logically destroying unsold inventory is the same a killing children.
    CloudTalkinwilliamlondonfahlman
  • Reply 6 of 29
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,580member
    Doesn’t surprise me.  I retrieved a drone that failed and they credited me as soon as I dropped it off at the return location (Kohls).  I was also talking to the manufacturer….who said I didn’t have to return it; they sent me a new one directly. Bottom line, I ended up getting a free drone by accident.  Amazon didn’t care because they weren’t sending it back anyway. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 29
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,199member
    The undercover investigation, which was carried out by media outlet iTV News,
    It's ITV, not iTV. AppleTV was going to be called iTV until ITV complained.

    It's absurd how Amazon can do this and still make money, why they don't sell as used or put more returns in their "warehouse deals" I have no idea.
    neuroseanjAlex_Valanhcharlesatlasdysamoria
  • Reply 8 of 29
    iOS_Guy80iOS_Guy80 Posts: 482member
    So much waste. Destroy unused products rather than put them to use through charity. I mean I understand capitalism and all and having a sticker price, but it seems so wasteful to destroy a perfectly functional  product rather than let someone else use it, even if for free. Just my opinion. 
    👍
    BeatsseanjAlex_V
  • Reply 9 of 29
    neuroneuro Posts: 1member
    elijahg said:
    It's ITV, not iTV. AppleTV was going to be called iTV until ITV complained.

    Was literally just about to post this :smiley: 
    alanhelijahgwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 29
    badmonkbadmonk Posts: 978member
    And the EU goes after Apple for generating e-waste… because of “non-standard chargers and right to repair issues.”

    At least Apple makes durable long-lived products.

    This is yet another example of politicians not seeing larger issues-like going after the Apple App store as a pseudo-monopoly on iOS when Amazon Marketplace is cannibalizing the entirety of the online economy and engaging in wholesale destruction of products, not to mention purposefully making products that directly compete with their sellers and undercut them.  They are actively using their size to consume every larger parts of the economy.
    DogpersonBeatsselleringtonwilliamlondonseanjelijahgwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 29
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 1,613member
    I thought everyone  knew this. Returns to Amazon were always dumped. Unsold items were always dumped. I’ve  known about this for several years. It’s cheeper for them to dump them rather than try to restock the item for resale or send it to an outlet of some kind. It’s even cheeper than donating them.. It’s one of the reasons I don’t do business with Amazon. 
    Dogpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 29
    Happy to say I did not visit their website for Primeday!
    I find anything I need on eBay and it is usually cheaper for exact item. 
    Buy my ebooks from B&N.
    dysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 29
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,397member
    DAalseth said:
    I thought everyone  knew this. Returns to Amazon were always dumped. Unsold items were always dumped. I’ve  known about this for several years. It’s cheeper for them to dump them rather than try to restock the item for resale or send it to an outlet of some kind. It’s even cheeper than donating them.. It’s one of the reasons I don’t do business with Amazon. 
    This is false.  I have first hand knowledge of this.  I have bought items from Amazon from their “Amazon Warehouse” branch, whose job it is to re-sell items that have been returned.  

    Unopened stuff that is returned will be restocked. And some used items will be refurbished and resold.  I am not saying everything is, but least some of it is, which is why they have “Amazon Warehouse”.  
    Alex_VfahlmandysamoriaFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 14 of 29
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,397member
    These sorts of returns are usually auctioned or sold bu the pallet to companies (or people) who then refurb or sort through and find the working stuff and then sell it through specialty stores or eBay or other online forums etc.  I’ve subscribed in the past to lists from companies who help big retailers pack and sell the stuff by the pallet and I know a guy (through a hobby forum) who, as a retiree, recently started a business buying these sorts of pallets and selling the good stuff on eBay and the like.  He does very well. In fact his wife quit her job to help him it was working so well. 

    Amazon should at least do that.  Turn it over to companies who can do the grunt work of selling or donating it off 
    foregoneconclusionseanjAlex_VfahlmandysamoriaFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 15 of 29
    BeatsBeats Posts: 2,408member
    chadbag said:
    These sorts of returns are usually auctioned or sold bu the pallet to companies (or people) who then refurb or sort through and find the working stuff and then sell it through specialty stores or eBay or other online forums etc.  I’ve subscribed in the past to lists from companies who help big retailers pack and sell the stuff by the pallet and I know a guy (through a hobby forum) who, as a retiree, recently started a business buying these sorts of pallets and selling the good stuff on eBay and the like.  He does very well. In fact his wife quit her job to help him it was working so well. 

    Amazon should at least do that.  Turn it over to companies who can do the grunt work of selling or donating it off 

    But then Jeff Bozo would be competing with independent shops!!
    FileMakerFeller
  • Reply 16 of 29
    What happens to all the cardboard packaging? Amazon and many others are complaining about the shortage of packaging in the UK.
    I really hope that the Jeff 'I'm gonna rule the world' Bezos company does not send and recyclable packaging to incineration. 

    There again, if it costs £0.05 per unit to remove the packaging and a new fresh box costs £0.04 then guess which path they will choose.
    Cheaper is not always the best Mr Bezos.
    williamlondonFileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 29
    rezwitsrezwits Posts: 730member
    DAalseth said:
    I thought everyone  knew this. Returns to Amazon were always dumped. Unsold items were always dumped. I’ve  known about this for several years. It’s cheeper for them to dump them rather than try to restock the item for resale or send it to an outlet of some kind. It’s even cheeper than donating them.. It’s one of the reasons I don’t do business with Amazon. 
    Seems like they (Amazon) are going tooooo fast...  things just like piling up!

    I honestly didn't understand how Amazon could possibly exist (early 2000s), because Bezos was like "and we'll have and sell every product"

    And I am seeing the tail end of early day thoughts.  I mean think about this, most stores like Walmart Target etc, have:

    A Blender, but they usually carry at LEAST two choices, maybe up to 4 or 5, right?

    Dude freakin' Amazon is like SERIOUSLY every product;  So, External Laptop/Phone Battery Charger?
    How many guys? like 300? 400+? pages of external battery chargers? just competing with themselves internally.
    Price for Price, crazy silly 3rd party company name after company name?
    WTF...

    Amazon Choice, Amazon Choice, Amazon Choice, ...
    edited June 23 watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 29
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,164member
    When money is the only motivation, what do you expect?  Grotesque capitalism in action from one or the worst practitioners.
    Alex_VdysamoriaFileMakerFellerelijahgwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 29
    seanjseanj Posts: 235member
    I wonder how many people realise that Amazon is a cloud service provider with a small gift shop tacked onto the side? The shop side of the business lost money for years, and only recently became profitable.
    The huge profits are from the cloud services.
    Alex_Vwatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 29
    alanhalanh Posts: 68member
    neuro said:
    elijahg said:
    It's ITV, not iTV. AppleTV was going to be called iTV until ITV complained.

    Was literally just about to post this :smiley: 

    Me too! Its not an Apple product it is Independent Television News
    elijahgwatto_cobra
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