Undercover footage from ITV News showed items such as laptops, drones and hair dryers being sorted into boxes marked “destroy” at one of Amazon’s 24 warehouses in the UK. One ex-employee at the Scottish site claimed their “target was to generally destroy 130,000 items a week”. The anonymous worker added: “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.
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“Overall, 50 per cent of all items are unopened and still in their shrink wrap. The other half are returns and in good condition.”
The investigation, which focuses on the online giant’s Dunfermline warehouse, also found a leaked document which claimed to show more than 124,000 items were marked “destroy” in one week in April – compared with just 28,000 items in the same period labelled “donate”.
Sam Chetan-Welsh, political advisor to Greenpeace UK, said: “It’s just shocking to see a company making billions in profits getting rid of brand new stock in this way.
“Expensive products that took energy and resources to manufacture come straight off the production line into our overstretched waste system, and the high taxes needed to dispose of it all aren’t being paid by Amazon.
“Other countries have laws to prevent this type of appalling waste, and our government needs to bring in similar legislation immediately.”
Amazon denied it was cheaper to dispose of the items instead of returning them to the domestic sellers.
A statement said: “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.”
Energy recovery is when recyclable materials are stripped from products and the rest is reconverted into energy and put through the national grid.
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