Amazon is destroying tens of thousands of items of unsold stock, including "books galore" in one of its UK warehouses every week, according to an ITV News investigation.
Footage gathered by ITV News from Amazon's Dunfermline warehouse shows Bobby Cummines' The Parkhurst Years (Ebury) and Tomi Adeyemi's Children of Blood and Bone (Pan Macmillan) among books sorted into boxes marked "destroy" alongside smart TVs, laptops, drones, headphones, computer drives and hairdryers.
These are products that were never sold or returned by a customer that are thrown into bins and carried away by lorries for disposal. ITV News said in one week in April, a leaked document from inside the Dunfermline warehouse showed more than 124,000 items were marked "destroy". In contrast, just 28,000 items in the same period were labelled "donate". A former employee told ITV News the "target was to generally destroy 130,000 items a week”.
The reason has been blamed on Amazon's business model. Many vendors choose to house their products in Amazon’s large warehouses, but companies are charged more to store them if the goods remain unsold for a long time. For this reason, it is eventually cheaper to dispose of the goods than to continue storing the stock.
Responding to the footage, a spokesperson for Amazon told The Bookseller: “We do not send any items to landfill in the UK and to suggest otherwise is highly misleading and untrue. Our priority is to resell, donate or recycle any unsold products. 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.
“We are committed to reducing our environmental footprint and building a circular economy programme with the aim of reducing returns, reusing and reselling products and reducing disposals.”
With the world's biggest ever climate conference coming up in November in Glasgow, Greenpeace has called on the government to intervene with legislation. Spokesman Sam Chetan-Welsh said: "It’s an unimaginable amount of unnecessary waste, and just shocking to see a multi-billion pound company getting rid of stock in this way. Stuff that’s not even single use but not being used at all, straight off the production line and into the bin. As long as Amazon’s business model relies on this kind of disposal culture, things are only going to get worse. The government must step in and bring in legislation immediately."