Amazon returns: the battle of reducing waste


Amazon have regularly been under fire for their impact on the environment and the sheer amount of waste they produce. They often launch new updates and programmes with the hope of making the returns process easier. But is it as easy as it seems? Are Amazon really turning corners in terms of reducing waste?


Can Amazon really improve on reducing waste?

Returns Performance Dashboard launching

Amazon are launching a new automated Returns Performance Dashboard on October 21st for FBM businesses. It’s aim, Amazon says, is to allow sellers to analyse and address any returns issues with ease. Initially, it seems a helpful tool on face value. Unfortunately, not all sellers agree. This latest update could mean that Amazon are trying to implement yet another scoring system on how businesses should perform on their platform. Sellers can’t help but feel this is a way of Amazon trying to gain control and encourage them to become FBA businesses instead.


It turns out trying to make the returns process easier…isn’t so easy!

Reducing waste with FBA Donations

The FBA Donations programme was launched by Amazon in 2019 in the UK, US and, more recently France. The aim was to work on reducing waste and allow businesses to donate their unwanted goods to charities. Unfortunately, earlier this year, an undercover newspaper witnessed Amazon destroying millions of items that could have been useful to schools and those less fortunate. We guess Amazon weren’t quite as on top of things as we were led to believe…

A leaked document from the Dunfermline warehouse showed a staggering 124,000 items were marked to be destroyed – and that was just in the space of 1 week! Needless to say, the donations were nowhere near this amount.


Make a change in reducing waste by enrolling in the FBA Donations programme

The programme is actually a great idea to help others and combat environmental waste. Businesses are able to donate returned goods or unwanted inventory to Amazon’s selected charitable organisations, including:

  • Age UK
  • Good360
  • Barnardos
  • British Heart Foundation
  • Scope
  • Sue Ryder
  • Cancer Research UK
  • Newlife

Sellers are responsible for enrolling themselves into the programme, similar to the ‘Furbishment’ Value Recovery Option that Amazon offer. With that in mind, if Amazon want to work towards a goal of ‘zero product disposal’, why aren’t sellers signed up automatically? Why aren’t they doing it in every single country? This could explain the continued high numbers of waste Amazon seem to be churning out.

What is the Value Recovery Option?

To offer a further step in the life of a product, sellers can enroll in the ‘Furbishment’ Value Recovery Option. Instead of a product directly returning to you, you can opt to have it returned to Amazon first for refurbishment. Essentially, a specialist will grade the item, checking the condition of the product to see if it can be refurbished and sold as new, before sending it back to you, on to donations, or indeed to be destroyed.


Perhaps it’s time to look at where that unwanted inventory should go

So far, FBA Donations have donated over 67 million items. But do we think they’re doing enough in the battle of reducing waste? Only time will tell.

We’re always keeping an eye on the latest Amazon updates to pass on to you. Head to our blog to find out more.