On Wednesday, Amazon announced a major change to how it handles unsold products from its third-party sellers. In the past, the corporation would usually return or dump the unwanted goods. However, it has now launched a new initiative, called Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) Donations, that’s intended to curb the amount of waste it creates.
How the New Program Works
In a press release, Amazon explained that it will give its U.S. and U.K. third-party sellers the option to gift their unsold and returned products to charity. In America, the corporation will work with philanthropic product organization Good360 to send unsold items to those in need. Meanwhile, in Britain, the firm will distribute sellers’ unwanted inventory to several charities including Barnardo’s, Newlife, and The Salvation Army.
The Seattle-based corporation stated that its FBA program will go live in September. To help ensure fewer goods go to waste, Amazon will make the new program the default disposal option for its sellers. Donating unwanted goods will be a cost-effective option for merchants with an excess of unneeded inventory. Amazon currently charges $0.50 to return unsold products, but only charges $0.15 to discard them.
Amazon’s community outreach director, Alice Shobe, said that the corporation is excited to launch an initiative that “transforms lives and strengthens local communities.”
Feedback Express states that Amazon added over a million new third-party sellers in 2018 alone. The firm also noted that 66 percent of its list of the top 10,000 merchants fulfill their orders through the e-commerce company.
Amazon told CNBC that its donations program is part of a larger initiative to ultimately discontinue its practice of destroying products. The company hopes to get its discarded goods ratio down to zero via resales, liquidations, supplier returns, and charity.
A New Approach to Unwanted Goods
As one of the world’s largest e-commerce platforms, Amazon processes a truly staggering amount of orders every day. On Prime Day 2019, the firm sold more than 175 million items. However, in addition to moving an extraordinarily high volume of products, it also generates a staggering amount of waste.
In May, the Daily Mail reported that one of Amazon’s British warehouses regularly transported brand-new TVs, kitchen appliances and toys to a local landfill. Similarly, a French television station discovered that the e-commerce company destroyed three million products that it couldn’t sell. In fact, the broadcaster found that one small French facility collected a massive 293,000 pounds of scrap in just nine months.
When those stories broke, Amazon insisted that it always tried to direct unsold and returned merchandise to charity. However, the firm offered no defense of its undeniably wasteful business practices.
Fortunately, it seems that the scrutiny generated by the two stories has inspired Amazon to change its ways. Across the board, it seems that public shame is a highly useful tool for generating positive change in large corporations.