Amazon reportedly destroys millions of items annually in one UK warehouse

Vendors sometimes decide to stop paying Amazon to store their stock. Their goods may be destroyed, ITV News reports.

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Laura Hautala
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A stack of flat Amazon boxes, with one on top showing the Amazon smile logo.

Amazon says destroyed items are recycled and not sent to landfills.

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Amazon is destroying thousands of goods, some returned items and some unsold, at one of its warehouses every week, according to a report from UK outlet ITV News. The report included an interview with a former Amazon warehouse employee, who said a fulfillment center near Glasgow, Scotland, destroyed around 130,000 items a week. Footage from inside the warehouse showed a power drill, a book and face masks in their original packaging in carts reportedly headed to a "destruction zone" in the facility.

"There's no rhyme or reason to what gets destroyed: Dyson fans, Hoovers, the occasional MacBook and iPad," said the employee, who was unnamed in the report.

Some of the destroyed goods come from third-party sellers who list their items on Amazon's marketplace and pay the e-commerce giant to store the items in fulfillment centers, so they can be shipped with Amazon's speedy logistics process, according to ITV. These vendors may decide to stop paying if their items go unsold for too long, which can lead Amazon to destroy the goods. Some items go to charity.

The report comes as Amazon promotes its Prime Day shopping event on Monday and Tuesday, when it typically boosts sales with discounts on popular items. Environmental activists and some of the company's own employees have called on the company to reduce its carbon footprint. The company created a climate pledge in 2019, in which it set a goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2040, and called on other companies to do the same. In Jan. 2020, about 350 workers joined a walkout in protest of Amazon's contributions to climate change in 2020. In June 2020, Amazon launched a $2 billion investment fund to address carbon emissions.

The company told ITV that no destroyed items go in the landfill. In a statement, an Amazon spokesperson said the company is working to a goal of zero product disposal. "Our priority is to resell, donate to charitable organizations or recycle any unsold products," the spokesperson said. "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."