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Supply Chain

Amazon ‘destroys’ millions of unsold products each year

An investigation conducted by ITV News found that 124,000 items were marked ‘destroy’ at the group’s Dunfermline warehouse during one week in April alone

Amazon has been accused of destroying millions of unsold items every year at one of its UK fulfilment centres. 

An investigation conducted by ITV News has claimed that the waste, which included new and unused products, is composed of items that are either never sold or returned by a customer.

A leaked document seen by the news platform found that one week in April led to 124,000 items being marked “destroy” at the online retailer’s Dunfermline warehouse.

An ex-employee told ITV that the team’s target “was to generally destroy 130,000 items a week”, despite the leaked document showing that just 28,000 products were labelled “donate” in the same period.

The ex-employee added: “Overall, 50 percent of all items are unopened and still in their shrink wrap. The other half are returns and in good condition. Staff have just become numb to what they are being asked to do.”

Prior to the investigation becoming public, John Boumphrey, Amazon’s UK country manager, had told the outlet that the firm destroys an “extremely small” number of items.

An Amazon spokesperson added: “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.”

Boris Johnson reacted to the “incredible” allegations, stating that Amazon’s reported waste is “an indictment of a consumerist society”, if true.

Retail Sector has contacted Amazon for comment.

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