Amazon is said to be destroying “massive amounts” of as-new and returned items in Germany. The e-commerce giant already destroys types of items that can be described as “health and personal care” products when people return them due to sanitary reasons. But, in Germany, it has found destroying products including washing machines, smartphones and furniture.
According to a report by business weekly WirtschaftsWoche and news show Frontal 21, Amazon is destroying a “massive amounts” of new and returned items. The revelation has drawn an angry response from the German government and environmental campaigners.
“This is a huge scandal. We are consuming these resources despite all the problems in the world. This approach is not in step with our times,” Jochen Flasbarth from the German environment ministry told WirtschaftsWoche. The revelation has even led to call for new law on destruction of first-hand goods. “There is a need for a new law on banning the waste and destruction of first-hand and usable goods,” Greenpeace’s Kirsten Brodde said.
In a statement, Amazon Germany said that it is “committed to minimizing product waste” and has multiple programs in place to achieve this. The e-commerce giant states some returned items are resold through Amazon Warehouse while some are recycled. It also confirms that some returned items are donated to charity through platforms such as Innatura and food banks.
“Where products cannot be sold, resold or donated, we work with wholesale liquidators who buy these goods and re-sell them through other channels,” Amazon Germany said.
There is also a counter argument stating that manufacturers and vendors request Amazon to destroy goods on their behalf. The reason could be a common flaw and destruction is often cheaper than taking back a number of faulty products. The report by WirtschaftsWoche claims that Amazon Germany is destroying some items are keeping them in its warehouse for a mere day and cites employees saying they have “destroyed goods worth tens of thousands of euros on a daily basis.”
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Fortune reports that Amazon Germany did not reveal information as to how much inventory it destroys and what that destruction means for the commerce company. There is also no clarity on how the company carries out this destruction, but new set of laws might be on their way for e-commerce companies and their operational practice in Europe.