Waste Legislation

UK: Calls grow loud for Amazon ‘anti-waste law’

The global online retailer has been accused of destroying in-date groceries as well as electronic goods such as laptops and TV’s.

British charities have urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to issue an ‘Amazon law’ after allegations against the online giant’s wasteful practices came to light recently.

Boxes of groceries containing crisps, tinned food and soft drinks appear to be earmarked as waste in photos and footage taken by an Amazon worker at the retailers Dunfermline depot in Fife.

Amazon previously came under fire for disposing of non-food items such as books, laptops and TV’s, relevant footage showing sealed face masks, computer equipment and sealed face masks placed into boxes called ‘destroy’.

The scope of new and unused good being binned in the UK by Amazon can be considered massive, with eight workers from eight different warehouses testifying to having witnessed the destruction of returned items in impeccable condition.

A former Amazon employee at a Hertfordshire centre concurred, stating that he believes that the practice ‘happens in every facility’.

Amazon denied throwing away edible food prior to its expiry date, stressing that it supplied 23 food banks and charities with 2,9 million food and drink products.  

The online shopping giant also pointed out that it does not send any products to landfill in the UK.

“Our priority is to resell, donate or recycle any unsold products. We recognise that confusion may have stemmed from our use of the word “destroy”. We are in the process of replacing it with terms that more accurately reflect our longstanding business practices.”

Yet recent investigations showed that 124,000 items were sent to landfill from the Dunfermline warehouse.

"Really it does sound like an extraordinary approach just to be disposing of goods which are perfectly good but just don't have a home and they can't be bothered to store them," Environment Secretary George Eustice told MPs before a House of Lords Environment and Climate Change Committee.

"Obviously that is a chronic waste and we are looking at things like the WEEE [waste electrical and electronic equipment] regulations that we have on electronic goods that are there in retained EU law.

A letter signed by representatives of six of the largest UK environmental organisations including Greenpeace, the Environmental Investigation Agency as well as Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland petitions the government to adopt an anti-waste law that will require companies to reuse or donate unsold items.