Amazon says it is taking measures to reduce the staggering amount of unsold stock that goes to waste each year.
In June, it emerged the retail giant was destroying millions of unsold items including laptops and smart TVs – many still in their original packaging.
Undercover footage shows the astonishing scale of waste from just one of 24 distribution centres in operation across the UK.
Products that are often new and unused get sorted into boxes labelled ‘destroy’, including drones, hairdryers, top of the range headphones and books.
An ex-employee, who asked to remain anonymous, alleged that staff had a target ‘to generally destroy 130,000 items a week’.
Now though, the company says it is has introduced two new programmes that mean items being sold through third-party sellers aren’t wasted. Businesses selling on Amazon will be able to resell customer-returned items or overstock inventory, the tech giant said.
‘Customer returns are a fact of life for all retailers, and what to do with those products is an industry-wide challenge,’ said Libby Johnson McKee, director, Amazon WW Returns, ReCommerce and Sustainability.
‘These new programmes are examples of the steps we’re taking to ensure that products sold on Amazon—whether by us or our small business partners—go to good use and don’t become waste.’
When an item is returned, sellers can choose to automatically route it to this new programme. Amazon will then evaluate the item and assign it one of four standard conditions: Used – Like New, Used – Very Good, Used – Good, and Used – Acceptable.
Sellers then set the price for items based on the condition and manage pricing, advertising, and sales using their existing processes, just as they do for their new items.
This new Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) programme, called Grade and Resell, is available in the UK now and will launch in the US by the end of the year.
Amazon says it will launch in Germany, France, Italy and Spain by early 2022.
The company has also provided a donation service since 2019 which allows sellers to automatically donate returned or overstock items.
‘Since its launch, FBA Donations has provided more than 67 million products from sellers using FBA to charitable organisations around the world, partnering with many charitable organisations in the UK including Age UK, Barnardo’s, the British Heart Foundation, and Cancer Research,’ the company said in a statement.
‘Some of these donated items have included household appliances, tools, school supplies, children’s items, clothing, and more, helping people impacted by Covid-19.’
Meanwhile, international lawmakers are attempting to put in place tax reforms that will come into force in 2023 and make multinational giants like Amazon pay more tax.
As well as increasing the minimum tax level for multinationals, the deal aims to shift taxation rights from the country a firm is headquartered to the markets where they make profits.
Tech giants like Facebook and Amazon have been criticised for years for paying low corporation tax in countries where they operate.
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Secretary General Mathias Cormann said: ‘After years of intense work and negotiations, this historic package will ensure that large multinational companies pay their fair share of tax everywhere.’
The move comes after a bumper year for Amazon that has seen profits soar as consumers shifted their spend online during the pandemic.
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