Ad Amazon a lot is wasted. Hundreds of thousands of items returned by customers, i.e. returned after purchase for any reason, or unsold for too long, are sent to pulp every day. The order is: “Destroy”. Last June, for example, a television investigation discovered a real “destruction zone” in a sorting center in Dumferline, Scotland. An ITV News reporter verified how millions of unsold products were branded and discarded there: according to a former employee over 130 thousand a week, half returned and half unsold. PCs, telephones, masks, drones, household appliances sent for recycling or landfills. When you consider that Amazon has warehouses all over the world over 175, we understand the dimension of the phenomenon. Greenpeace had also launched a similar complaint shortly after through an undercover activist in a logistics center in Winsen, south of Hamburg, Germany, who had found a similar, senseless strategy.
Obviously the colossus is not directly responsible of these choices: mostly follows the indications of the third parties who sell through the platform and that, in order not to pay the storage fees in the Jeff Bezos centers, they prefer to throw away the items rather than keep them still available for any orders. To be honest, since 2019 some often end up in charitable donation operations, albeit a negligible part of the problem. Now the Seattle giant has decided to tackle the problem by launching two programs, always under the “Fulfillment by Amazon” umbrella.
“Grade and Resell”Is the first: it is a program designed to limit the waste of returned products or at risk of destruction because they have been without requests for some time. External sellers will be able to resell returned items as “used”. That is, they will be able to decide to channel what returns to the warehouse in a new way of selling. Each object will be rated by Amazon according to a scale: “Used-As New”, “Used-Very Good”, “Used-Good” or “Used-Acceptable”. The partner seller will then be able to set a new price based on the judgment and relist it. It starts in the UK, but by the end of the year it will be available in the US and then in Germany, France, Italy and Spain in early 2022.
The second initiative, Liquidations, is instead aimed at allowing sellers of quickly dispose of excess inventory. They can then sell the excess returns or inventories to a network of wholesalers, again through Amazon. The possibility is already operational in the United States, Germany, France, Italy and Spain and soon in Great Britain. You will obviously lose on value but you will still make cash and save inventory costs in the centers of the platform (which increasingly needs space).
Two months ago the company defended itself from the accusations by explaining that it was “working to achieve the goal of zero product disposal.” “Our priority – a statement read – is to resell, donate to charities or recycle unsold products. No items are sent to landfill in the UK. As a last resort, we will send the articles to energy recovery, but we are working hard to reduce the number of times this happens to zero ”. In short, even if the donation program, launched almost three years ago, has so far led to the disposing of 67 million products to charities around the world, on that point there is still a lot to do. And it probably had to get there much sooner.
“Customer returns are a given for all retailers, and what to do with those products is an industry-wide challenge,” he wrote. Libby Johnson McKee, the head of Amazon WW Returns, ReCommerce and Sustainability – these new programs are examples of the steps we are taking to ensure that products sold on Amazon, by us as well as by even small business partners, are used correctly and do not become waste. Along with existing programs such as FBA donations, we hope they will help build a circular economy and reduce our impact on the planet. And we’re thrilled that these programs will also help businesses selling on Amazon cut costs and grow their businesses – it’s a win for our partners, customers and communities. “