Amazon is reportedly destroying “massive amounts” of as-new and returned items in Germany. This is according to a report by Forbes sourced from German business weekly WirtschaftsWoche and news show called Frontal 21.
Amazon routinely destroys returns of health and personal care items for sanitary reasons, but the goods in question are things like washing machines, and smartphones.
As predicted, there were angry reactions from the German government and environmental campaigners.
“This is a huge scandal,” Jochen Flasbarth from the German environment ministry told WirtschaftsWoche. “We are consuming these resources despite all the problems in the world. This approach is not in step with our times.”
Upon hearing of the destruction of returned goods, Greenpeace’s Kirsten Brodde said a new “law on banning the waste and destruction of firsthand and usable goods” was needed.
Amazon Germany says its ‘committed to reducing product waste’ and has several programs in place to achieve this. Returns are either resold through Amazon warehouse, recycled or donated to charity – through platforms such as Innatura and through food banks.
“Where products cannot be sold, resold or donated, we work with wholesale liquidators who buy these goods and re-sell them through other channels,” Amazon Germany said.
Some manufacturers prefer to have their products destroyed rather than returned, as destroying the goods is often cheaper than shipping and warehousing the damaged stock.
The real issue was how long the goods were held until they were destroyed. The WirtschaftsWoche report claims that some items were destroyed after being in Amazon’s warehouse for only a day, and cites Amazon employees as saying they have “destroyed goods worth tens of thousands of euros on a daily basis.”
When questioned by Forbes magazine for information about how much inventory it destroys, and what destruction entails—how much material is recycled—the company did not provide an answer.