Internet behemoth Amazon is being slammed by reports that it often destroys its unsold merchandise, reports CBS News.
News first broke of the practice after reporters in France posed as Amazon employees and discovered a “destruction zone.” In this so-called “destruction zone,” brand new toys, kitchen equipment, and flat-screen TVs were being put onto trucks to be dumped and destroyed.
The journalists estimated that over 3 million items were destroyed each year from the French warehouses alone.
As covered by The Daily Mail, undercover reporting on the alleged practice soon followed in the U.K. There, a journalist — likewise posing as an Amazon employee — asked his manager about the future of unsold goods.
“Some are returned but some are also destroyed.”
Naturally, Amazon has a very different public line. When the company was asked about the topic, a spokesperson focused on the shopping titan’s charity.
“For unsold products we partner with a number of charities including In Kind Direct, which works with non-profit organizations to distribute goods to charities across the U.K.”
Items are often destroyed because it costs money to keep them housed in storage. British business owners who have Amazon fulfill their orders have described how prices for storing items jumps as time goes on.
One such business owner explained that, in the U.K. warehouse, Amazon charged vendors around $30 per meter of space in which they might store their goods. However, after six months, the price jumps dramatically — to around $550. After a year, the price is increased to an exorbitant $1100, over 36 times the original price.
If vendors want the goods to be shipped back, they must pay Amazon over $20 per item. In contrast, if they agree to have their merchandise destroyed, it costs less than 25 cents.
British Pensions Minister Guy Opperman was outraged at the report.
“Amazon should be completely ashamed of themselves. This is not proper business practice and I would encourage them to review the commercial arrangements they have with their suppliers.”
The news comes at a time when millions in Britain are worried about their financial future, as the repercussions of exiting the European Union — a movement known as Brexit — are still unclear.
This report also comes at a time when the public is more environmentally aware. Labour MP Mary Creagh, chairwoman of the Environmental Audit Committee, attacked Amazon for its senseless waste.
“This kind of policy has disastrous consequences for the environment. Amazon was one of the worst performing retailers in the Audit Committee’s recent inquiry and it is shocking to see these destructive policies are now widespread across the company.”
Amazon is not the only company to destroy unused products. Burberry was slammed for reportedly burning more than $32 million worth of merchandise last year, doing so to offset the possibility that overproduction would cheapen the brand.