ITV investigation claims Amazon destroys millions of items of unsold stock each year

Online giant Amazon is destroying millions of items of unsold stock every year, products that are often new and unused, according to the findings of an ITV News investigation.

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

ITV says these are products that were unsold or were returned by customers.

“Almost all could have been redistributed to charities or those in need,” ITV News said. “Instead, they are thrown into vast bins, carried away by lorries (which we tracked), and dumped at either recycling centres or, worse, a landfill site.”

According to the 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’.

The ITV source admitted that in some weeks, as many as 200,000 items could be marked ‘destroy’.

Zero product disposal

In a response to the findings of the ITV investigation, Amazon said: “We are working towards a goal of zero product disposal and our priority is to resell, donate to charitable organisations or recycle any unsold products.

“No items are sent to landfill in the UK. 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.”

In response to the investigation, The Guardian reports that three Labour MPs, including the chairs of the all-party parliamentary groups (APPGs) on digital skills and data poverty, have written to demand a meeting with John Boumphrey, the country manager UK at Amazon.

The MPs said the destruction of unwanted laptops and tablets was ‘incredibly damaging’ for the environment, but also a “missed opportunity to help millions of people in the UK who do not have a device to connect to the internet”, said the letter, signed by Julie Elliott, Siobhain McDonagh and Darren Jones.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng told ITV News he was “very surprised” about the findings of the investigation and said he wanted “to get to the bottom of what is actually happening”.

“I know that Amazon is committed to net zero, they’ve committed huge amounts of investment to the rainforest, to keeping the rainforest going and I’m surprised,” Mr Kwarteng said.

“I haven’t read the report so I need to look at the report to see what my response is. But I think Amazon should do the right thing and it would be very disappointing if this is true.”

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