Amazon destroys millions of unsold items, every year, including books, high-end electronics and now even face masks, a new investigation has revealed. Images collected by UK broadcaster ITV from just one of Amazon’s 24 UK distribution centers show unsold items packed in boxes marked “destroy”. Not only that, the huge quantity of this waste has drawn attention to why these goods – some never used – could not have been distributed to charities. The reason these products are being destroyed on such a large scale is due to the e-commerce giant’s business model.
Many sellers house their products in Amazon’s vast warehouses, but once they go unsold for a long time, disposing of them becomes affordable than continuing to pay for their storage. Just to give a better perspective on the scale of the problem, a former Amazon employee told that their goal is to usually destroy 1.3 lakh of items per week, Friday through Friday.
“I used to pant. There’s no rhyme or reason for what’s destroyed – fans of Dyson, Hoovers, the casual MacBook, and iPad. The other day, 20,000 COVID [face] masks were still in their packaging,” the former employee told ITV.
Products to be discarded were marked “destroy” on their boxes while those to be donated were marked “donate”. The gap between the two was huge. The same employee said that while the number of products to be destroyed was around 1.3 lakh, those to be donated were only 28,000 in the same time.
Meanwhile, distant in the United States, there is another case of Amazon in New York. Amazon warehouse worker Natalie Monarrez lives in her SUV. She works in the Amazon’s huge Staten Island-based warehouse and since 2019 has been homeless. She is a partner of a nearby gym where she brushes her teeth and takes a shower.
Despite her best efforts, Natalie has failed to secure a cheap home – neither shared nor studio – for herself. During the COVID-19 pandemic, things got really tough for her.
Amazon regularly talks about its starting salary for warehouse workers – $15 (around Rs. 1,110) an hour, which grows to $18.25 (around Rs. 1,360) in the warehouse where Natalie works. However, it is evident that for some workers, the pay is not enough to even afford and avail themselves of suitable housing, especially in cities like New York. Natalie further said that while Bezos donated to homeless shelters for public relations and tax deductions, he also had to know that some of his workers – with no family or secondary income – couldn’t pay the rent.
Many other workers in the city that Vice has spoken to early said they live with their parents or extended family and work in second and third jobs. In addition, some also commuted between the Bronx and Queens for three hours to get to work.