Amazon Warehouse Undercover Video Reveals Company Destroys 'Millions' of Unsold Items

Online e-commerce giant Amazon is destroying and dumping "millions" of items of unsold stock every year, many of which are brand new, a video investigation has found.

An investigation by ITV News at one of Amazon's "fulfilment centres" in the U.K, where items are processed before they are shipped and delivered, found that all sorts of items—from TVs and laptops to drones, hairdryers and books—were placed in boxes marked "destroy."

The report, published on Monday on ITV's website, comes as the online retailer embarks on its "Prime Day," offering deals on thousands of products over June 21-22.

The British news channel conducted the investigation into Amazon's Dunfermline warehouse in Scotland.

It found that the items that were scrapped were ones that were never sold, or returned by customers. Instead of being given away, all of the items were thrown into bins and taken away by trucks to recycling centers or landfill sites.

A former employee, speaking on condition of anonymity, told ITV: "From a Friday to a Friday our target was to generally destroy 130,000 items a week.

"I used to gasp. There's no rhyme or reason to what gets destroyed: Dyson fans, Hoovers, the occasional MacBook and iPad; the other day, 20,000 Covid (face) masks still in their wrappers."

"Overall, 50 percent of all items are unopened and still in their shrink wrap. The other half are returns and in good condition. Staff have just become numb to what they are being asked to do."

A leaked document in April from inside the warehouse showed that more than 124,000 items were marked to be destroyed, in just seven days. ITV reported that in contrast, only 28,000 items in that same period were labeled "donate."

The former employee told the news channel that in some weeks, as many as 200,000 items could be destroyed.

In an emailed statement to Newsweek, Amazon denied sending unused products to landfill sites in the U.K.

"We are working towards a goal of zero product disposal and our priority is to resell, donate to charitable organisations or recycle any unsold products. No items are sent to landfill in the UK. As a last resort, we will send items to energy recovery, but we're working hard to drive the number of times this happens down to zero," a spokesperson said.

"We are committed to reducing our environmental footprint and building a circular economy programme with the aim of reducing returns, reusing and reselling products, and reducing disposals."

Newsweek has contacted environmental groups for comment.

Sam Chetan Welsh, a political campaigner at Greenpeace, told ITV: "It's an unimaginable amount of unnecessary waste, and just shocking to see a multi-billion pound company getting rid of stock in this way.

"Stuff that's not even single use but not being used at all, straight off the production line and into the bin. As long as Amazon's business model relies on this kind of disposal culture, things are only going to get worse. The government must step in and bring in legislation immediately."

Amazon warehouse in Leeds
People walk past an Amazon UK Services Ltd Warehouse sign at Leeds Distribution Park on May 27, 2021 in Leeds, England. The e-commerce giant is dumping millions of items of unsold stock every year, many of which are brand new, an investigation has found. Nathan Stirk/Getty