Amazon outlines plan to cut product waste following ITV investigation

Online retailer, Amazon, has outlined plans to cut product waste after an ITV investigation claimed it destroys millions of items of unsold stock each year.

Amazon has introduced two new Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) programmes which will set out to make it easier for businesses selling on Amazon to resell customer-returned items or overstock inventory while also giving more products a second life.

“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. Along with existing programmes like FBA Donations, we hope these help build a circular economy and reduce our impact on the planet.

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.

“And we’re excited that these programmes will also help the businesses selling on Amazon reduce costs and grow their businesses—it’s a win for our partners, customers, and communities.”

The announcement comes after hidden filming from inside Amazon’s Dunfermline warehouse revealed smart TVs, laptops, drones, hairdryers, top of the range headphones, computer drives, books and thousands of sealed face masks were all sorted into boxes marked “destroy”.

According to the ITV investigation, in one week in April, a leaked document from inside the Dunfermline warehouse showed more than 124,000 items marked ‘destroy’.

In contrast, just 28,000 items in the same period were labelled ‘donate’.

Current regulations require sellers of electrical equipment to offer a free take-back service for waste electricals or join the Distributor Takeback Scheme to help fund local authority recycling services.

FBA Grade and Resell

Selling partners who want to resell returned items can take advantage of “FBA Grade and Resell,” which is now available in the UK, and will be available in the U.S. by end of year, and in Germany, France, Italy and Spain by early 2022.

This programme gives third party selling partners the option to sell returned products on Amazon as “used” items instead of having them sent back to them or donated.

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.

FBA Liquidations

“FBA Liquidations” gives sellers the option to use the company’s wholesale resale channel and technology to provide sellers with a way to recover a portion of their inventory cost from their returned or overstock inventory.

The programme is live in the U.S., Germany, France, Italy and Spain, and is set to go live in the UK in August. Previously a seller would either need to have returned or overstock inventory sent back to them or let Amazon take care of this product through its FBA Donations programme.

FBA Donations

In 2019, the retailer launched the Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) Donations programme to help bring items to those in need.

FBA Donations is a way for sellers using FBA to donate their overstock or returned items.

Amazon says that, 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.

Some of these donated items have included household appliances, tools, school supplies, children’s items, clothing, and more, helping people impacted by COVID-19.

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