Amazon is destroying unsold products by the thousands

A recent investigation uncovered a bombshell for our environment over at Amazon: The company is destroying millions of unused or returned products.

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Mary Katherine Moore
Content Creator

Author: Mary Katherine Moore

Content Creator

Started on staff: 2020
B.A., magna cum laude, Boston University

Mary Katherine creates print and digital content with the Creative Team for The Public Interest Network, with a focus on Environment America and its state affiliates. Mary Katherine lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she enjoys reading, running, baking and hiking.

A recent investigation uncovered a bombshell for our environment over at Amazon: The company is destroying millions of unused or returned products.

You can find practically anything on Amazon. But it turns out, the company will shred just about anything too — from flat screens and laptops to hairdryers and headphones. You name it, Amazon has destroyed it.

Our waste crisis is already bad enough, with nearly 60 million tons of electronic waste poisoning our environment each year. The last thing we need is Amazon turning hundreds of thousands of usable products into toxic waste.

Amazon’s adding to the fastest growing toxic waste stream

Instead of reusing or redistributing usable products, Amazon is shredding them — by the thousands. One former employee even said that their "target" was to destroy more than 100,000 unused or returned items every week.

So what happens to all this waste? Well for starters, it contributes to our e-waste crisis: E-waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the world — every year, millions of tons of toxic materials in phones, computers, TVs and more poison our soil, water, air and wildlife.

Plastic waste has also given us the horrific Great Pacific Garbage Patch — a swirling mass of garbage in the Pacific Ocean that's twice the size of Texas. Beyond that, our landfills, beaches and parks are overflowing with trash. The list goes on.

No rhyme or reason to what gets destroyed

If you think about all the plastic products that we use, the recycling rate is low beyond belief: More than 90% of plastic is never recycled.

Now Amazon's adding to our waste crisis by destroying products that weren't even used? It's outrageous. Amazon's adding fuel to the fire.

Former employees were astonished: "I used to gasp. There's no rhyme or reason to what gets destroyed ... Overall, 50% of all items are unopened and still in their shrink wrap. The other half are returns and in good condition."

I know I don't need to explain each and every harm that plastic waste inflicts on our environment, but it seems Amazon might need a reminder. That’s why Environment Rhode Island is calling on the world’s largest online retailer to stop this senseless practice. Will you stand with us?

 

ACT NOW

Add your name to call on Amazon CEO Andy Jassy to put an end to this wasteful practice. 

Mary Katherine Moore
Content Creator

Author: Mary Katherine Moore

Content Creator

Started on staff: 2020
B.A., magna cum laude, Boston University

Mary Katherine creates print and digital content with the Creative Team for The Public Interest Network, with a focus on Environment America and its state affiliates. Mary Katherine lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she enjoys reading, running, baking and hiking.