Amazon is Destroying Millions of Customer Returns and Surplus Inventory

Amazon is Destroying Millions of Customer Returns and Surplus Inventory

Amazon is one of the largest ecommerce platforms globally, and as such, has access to pretty much anything at their disposal. So, you would think that their efforts to maintain environmentally-sound practices -something they have been pedaling for years now – would be an easy thing to navigate. However, recent probes have found some wasteful practices that have resulted in millions worth of destroyed customer returns and surplus inventory products. Independently-conducted researches have revealed that most of the items sent for disposal are those in sealed packages, resellable condition or mint condition.

The products are destroyed or sent to landfills instead of charities and other organizations such as Back-Track where sellers could benefit from these discarded goods. While Amazon denies such practices, independent investigative probes by two digital news agencies reveal startling and uncomfortable truths.

United Kingdom Fulfillment Center Discovery

According to an investigation into the Amazon Dunfermline fulfillment center, they destroy around over a hundred thousand products in a month as opposed to what seems like a much better solution – donating or reselling them. Dunfermline is one of the 24 United Kingdom fulfillment centers, so the footage is startling and disturbing to most eco-conscious individuals.

Here are some of the items that are often marked for disposal:

  • Drones
  • High-end headphones
  • Computer drives
  • Books
  • Thousands of sealed face masks
  • Smart TVs
  • Laptops
  • Hairdryers

An anonymous informant revealed recently that the Amazon conglomerate has destroyed up to a hundred thousand products in one week, including Apple products like iPads and Macbooks. Allegedly, there are no particular reasons why these items – even sealed face masks that could be used in third world countries – are disposed of. When asked, most employees didn’t know the reasoning behind items in sealed packaging and shrink wraps gone to waste.

Prior to knowing about the investigation, Amazon UK’s John Boumphrey said they only dispose of a limited number of items. After ITV exposed the operation, he stated that their business practices are not against the law. He also insisted that they are working towards reducing their waste and environmental impact. He assured ITV that their products don’t end in landfills without extensive procedures.

Amazon Canadian Probe

Another investigation by CBC Marketplace on Amazon Canada attached a GPS tracker in 12 different household items that included a tent, faux leather backpack, coffee maker, overalls, toys, and a printer. These products were returned to Amazon to test where they would end up.

After a few months, they only resold a third of the 12 items to new buyers. They stored some of the returned products in Amazon warehouses, others were in transit, the mint condition backpack ended up in a landfill, and the overalls ended up at an e-waste product destruction and recycling facility.

Why Amazon Disposes of Products

You may be wondering why Amazon resorts to such methods when it seems obvious there are better solutions. It can be surmised that Amazon’s highly successful business model birthed this predicament. Vendors and sellers opt for Amazon storage and warehouses (FBA) to hold their units for a multitude of incentives that make 3PLs seem not as convenient or reasonable. However, the operational costs of FBA are expensive and there is only so much storage space available. The more prolonged the products remain unsold, the more reasonable and conclusive it is to simply dispose of stocks that aren’t selling. This alleviates space for products that ARE selling. Another possibility is the liability of repurposing forgotten items. Say, for example, the face masks that were mentioned earlier ended up having tears in them that made people sick, Amazon could be in for quite the lawsuit.

How to Prevent Waste AND Turn Over More Profit

Enter Back-Track, a unique business model that both helps cut back on unnecessary waste and also helps Amazon sellers minimize profit loss.

Back-Track deals with both customer returns (primarily open box never used items) as well as surplus inventory liquidation. So, say you’re selling watches on Amazon and it turns out that 50 of the units are returned.  Instead of just throwing them away or having Amazon resell or dispose of them, you can send them to Back-Track for to be inspected and refurbished possibly. Back-Track will then resells your customer return watches at a discounted price on a multitude of ecommerce platforms and you receive a percentage from the profits.

Not only does this alleviate the need to have YOUR products in Amazon’s hands, but you can regain some profit share AND avoid contributing to landfill waste. It’s a win-win!

Final Thoughts

Amazon is one of the leading ecommerce companies and it is partly because of that large-scale that many totally-fine products end up unused and in dump sites. And everyone suffers because of it. Sellers, bargain shoppers, and really anyone that wants to maintain what is left of our environment and ecosystem. As Amazon continues to dominate and grow, so will the waste.

So, if you are an Amazon seller, looking into companies like Back-Track for a more reasonable and eco-friendly solution for your customer returns and surplus inventory liquidation.