Manufacturers contribute $2.17 trillion to the U.S. economy. According to data, less than 30% of warehouses can be considered efficient. But while Amazon’s warehouses might seem like they’re streamlined to maximize efficiency, a recent report has revealed that these facilities may be a lot more wasteful than we thought.
According to a recent report made public by Business Insider, French television station M6 revealed in an undercover investigation piece that Amazon warehouses located in France destroyed more than 3 million products last year. In a nine month period, one of the company’s smallest warehouses in the country sent 293,000 items to designated scrap heaps. And while the company has maintained that it works with charities to find homes for unwanted goods, it’s clear that warehouses are destroying these unsold items instead of donating them.
A similar situation is happening in the United Kingdom, according to the Daily Mail. When the newspaper sent its own undercover reporter to do some digging into the practices of Amazon warehouses in the UK, a manager noted that while some unsold items are returned to the manufacturers or distributors, others are destroyed. Considering that the world is facing a colossal waste problem, the practice acts as just one more strike against Amazon. Despite the fact that dumpsters are serviced at 60% or below fullness levels, we’re producing more garbage than ever.
It’s not immediately clear as to why Amazon is choosing to destroy these items, particularly when other companies are embracing more sustainable practices. Some have speculated that the warehouses require valuable space that would otherwise be taken up by unsold merchandise. But what is evident is that Amazon isn’t the only major company that takes this approach. Last year, Burberry saw controversy after burning $38 million worth of clothes, cosmetics, and accessories to avoid having them be sold for more affordable prices. Richemont, the owner of Cartier, destroys its unsold products for the same reason. Still, when Amazon is on par with luxury goods in regards to their waste management, it’s understandable that eyebrows would be raised.
In the coming months and years, it’s likely that Amazon warehouses will be subject to attention from the general public. Aside from these wasteful practices, robots will likely start to become more prevalent in these facilities — and drones might soon become commonplace for package deliveries. And while we may love the convenience and the affordability that comes along with purchasing from Amazon, it’ll be up to society to decide whether destruction of the planet and an uncertain future for human workers will be worth being able to receive an order in less than two days’ time.
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