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Some Amazon Canada returns ports on landfills, reveals undercover investigation

As reported by CBC News, journalists who work for Marketplace has recently conducted a study of where Amazon Canada returns in the end, and what kind of impact they have on the environment.

As part of the investigation, Marketplace Journalists purchased a dozen articles from Amazon, including, but not limited to, a backpack, some toys, a printer, and a coffee maker. The journalists installed hidden GPS trackers on the goods and returned them in the same condition in which they were received.

By tracking the items, the journalists discovered that only 4 of the 1

2 items purchased and then returned to Amazon were resold – the bag, which was apparently intact but was claimed to be defective upon receipt from Amazon, was sent to a landfill, and the other items put in Amazon department stores or lived in transit for several months after they were returned.

According to Kevin Lyons, an associate professor at New Jersey’s Rutgers University and an expert in supply chain management and environmental policy, as much as 30-40% of all goods sold online are returned, while brick stores see less than <10% sales return in comparison.

When an item is returned to Amazon, and if the retailer believes that it can not be resold to end users, it is either sold by truck to liquidators, recycled or sent to landfill (even liquidators send what they can not sell to landfill).

Optoro, a technology company that specializes in streamlining the process of sorting through sales returns, estimates that sold items worth $ 400 billion are returned to retailers each year, most of which are items sold online. These returns generate £ 5 billion of waste – most of it e-waste – which is sent to landfill in the United States

“Our recycling system, not just in Canada, but worldwide, is extremely, extremely damaged,” said Meera Jain, an environmental blogger and avid Amazon customer who was disappointed to learn about the fate of a significant percentage of Amazon returns.

Jain talked about the disadvantages of the free return policy that was groundbreaking by Amazon and adopted by many other e-commerce sites, and how reselling, reselling or somehow re-messaging to items you would not prefer over the option of returning them, which can end up harming the environment.

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