Jeff Bezos believes that to be successful you must “create more than you consume.” Unfortunately for the environment, the Amazon CEO seems to be taking his advice too literally. British network ITV has found that the e-commerce group is destroying millions of unsold items, counting only Great Britain.
A former employee says Amazon warehouse in Dunfermline had a weekly target of destroying about 130,000 items a week. ITV footage showed smart TVs, laptops, drones, hair dryers and computer disks placed in boxes marked as “smash”. Greenpeace recently surprised Bezos by doing the same in Germany. Amazon did not respond to requests for comment, but the opportunity cost of taking up the scant shelf space is likely the culprit.
However, getting rid of excess material is the antithesis of the concept of a “circular economy”. This concept recognizes the importance of a sustainable economic system and aims to reduce waste by redesigning products and processes to encourage reuse and recycling. Amazon is also odd, given its commitment to eliminating net carbon emissions by 2040, a decade earlier than many large companies.
The remaining laxity is probably due to two gray areas. Amazon’s platform business model makes commitments less easy if two million small and medium-sized businesses selling their products through its portal are overcrowded. Meanwhile, there is no comparable net zero emission target for the circular economy and biodiversity.
This can change. If so-called Scope 3 emissions from a corporate supply chain can be your problem, you can also be wasted. Companies like Unilever and Danone already have goals to reduce single-use plastics. France already prohibits companies from destroying unsold or returned products, and other countries could follow suit. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday that Amazon’s behavior was “strange and unacceptable”.
The lack of a target similar to the net-zero emissions target could also be overcome. A good start would be to provide transparent digital information about the waste of products that Amazon stores to third parties. This would allow the commitment to reduce the problem.
Amazon may wait for the current controversy to subside. However, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation says that AUMs in public equity funds focus more on the circular economy than multiplying them by more than 20 to reach $7 billion, between December 2019 and March 2021. It doesn’t seem like a continuing problem to go away.
The authors are columnists for Reuters. opinions are yours. Translation Carlos Gomez DownIt’s a responsibility five days
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