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'The impact is incredible': Hidden cameras and secret trackers reveal where Amazon returns end up

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  • Oct 18th, 2020 9:16 pm
Deal Guru
Nov 15, 2008
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craftsman wrote: The majority of that while perfectly edible isn't due to a 'buy first, think later' philosophy but rather a put to buy and eat only what's 'perfect' and the idea that anything past the best before date is 'dangerous' when there is little known evidence that many of those date have any scientific bases to them. All of that is thrown out. Even food banks are extremely picky in terms of rejecting slightly dented can food which has been shown being perfectly fine.
Well, liability issues at the food bank (dented cans with imperfect seals can harbour botulism, which can kill). In that case you have to take the loss in $$$ over potential loss of life.
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Jan 7, 2002
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craftsman wrote: the idea that anything past the best before date is 'dangerous' when there is little known evidence that many of those date have any scientific bases to them
That's one valid explanation. Another is that donated "expired" food to the needy or pharmaceuticals to the developing world demonstrates some sort of double standard. It's not about safety but rather that poor people get the discards that the rich won't consume because it's not good enough for them. This sentiment holds even after scientific studies show that most solid drugs remain potent for years after they've been deemed "expired."

Closer to home recall that in the early days of the pandemic when PPE was in very short supply it was revealed that both Ottawa and Ontario governments had destroyed 10s of millions of N95 masks that had "expired." Part of the criticism was that a lot of these expiry dates are arbitrary. They don't necessarily mean the item is unsafe to use but rather it might be especially if not properly stored.

Perhaps it's time to revisit some of these practices and beliefs. If I needed PPE or some drug and I had the choice between an expired item and doing without the decision would be simple and obvious.
veni, vidi, Visa
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Jun 4, 2018
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engineered wrote: We need to tax packaging, tax waste and have huge fines and jail time for illegal dumping.
No, we definitely don't.
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Jan 27, 2006
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lecale wrote: Well, liability issues at the food bank (dented cans with imperfect seals can harbour botulism, which can kill). In that case you have to take the loss in $$$ over potential loss of life.
I would say that the liability issues are LOW as the retailers typically continue to leave those types of dented cans on the shelf for sale. Plus, if the seal is broken, the vast majority of these cans will leak.
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bylo wrote: It's not about safety but rather that poor people get the discards that the rich won't consume because it's not good enough for them.
I wasn't referring to donating expired goods for charities but rather how people will discard food that may be past their best before dates which is not the same as expired or bad.
bylo wrote: Closer to home recall that in the early days of the pandemic when PPE was in very short supply it was revealed that both Ottawa and Ontario governments had destroyed 10s of millions of N95 masks that had "expired." Part of the criticism was that a lot of these expiry dates are arbitrary. They don't necessarily mean the item is unsafe to use but rather it might be especially if not properly stored.

Perhaps it's time to revisit some of these practices and beliefs. If I needed PPE or some drug and I had the choice between an expired item and doing without the decision would be simple and obvious.
I believe a better direction may be to put a better definition on what a Best Before date is or expiration date does. After all, it's entirely possible when it comes down to safety equipment that the plastics degrade quickly past a certain date or exposured to UV light (ie most the 'eco-friendly plastics do) or that someone's guess that that product is simply 'bad'. The sad thing about the disposal of those mask is all of that could have been AVOIDED if:

1. Proper inventory control was used - ie what they do in supermarkets of using the old stock first and back fill with new stock;
2. Why can't the government test those expired mask just like they test those imported mask to see if they meet the standards.
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Jan 7, 2002
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craftsman wrote: I believe a better direction may be to put a better definition on what a Best Before date is or expiration date does.
Agreed,
The sad thing about the disposal of those mask is all of that could have been AVOIDED if:

1. Proper inventory control was used - ie what they do in supermarkets of using the old stock first and back fill with new stock;
2. Why can't the government test those expired mask just like they test those imported mask to see if they meet the standards.
As I recall the news reports at the time the N95s had been disposed of just because they'd "expired." There was no evidence that they were any less effective.

Then, because these were pre-COVID-19 days, the governments decided not only to dispose of them but also to save some money by not buying replacements. A dumb move followed by an even dumber one.

There was also something about the elastic in the straps deteriorating over time. Surely that wouldn't have been hard to test for and, if necessary much easier to replace compared to a whole new mask.

And even if these "expired" N95 had lost some effectiveness in filtering, say they'd become N90 or N80, I'd imagine most health care workers would have gladly used them if the alternative was to go without or even to use regular surgical masks.
veni, vidi, Visa
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TomLafinsky wrote: Like I always say, the planet will survive, it's the people on it who won't ;)
What do you mean, like, the "rock" part of the planet, because it looks like the plants, animals and water are gonna go?
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thexdriver wrote: No, we definitely don't.
So you're for wasteful packaging, and no reducing out waste?

Adding a tax for items with short warranties would also encourage companies to offer longer warranties.

And other countries can be influenced by fining/taxing imports that do not meet our health and safety, minimum wage, or environmental standards.
If the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.
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engineered wrote: So you're for wasteful packaging, and no reducing out waste?

Adding a tax for items with short warranties would also encourage companies to offer longer warranties.

And other countries can be influenced by fining/taxing imports that do not meet our health and safety, minimum wage, or environmental standards.
Longer warranties might not fix too much... On the surface, it might seem like it does but realistically, how many people actually take advantage of the warranty or even CAN take advantage of the warranty? Most people lose their receipts so they have no proof of purchase OR the cost to send the product to the warranty depot outweighs the cost of the product. Or, my favourite is that their warranty conditions don't really cover anything - like luggage! Besides, if a company makes enough money on the initial product, they can just swap the defective one and toss the broken one without missing too much of a beat.

On thing that might work is a tax on the waste produced by companies and so-called recycling firms. If you make it uneconomic to dispose of things that are sellable/reusable, then those returns will be moved into another channel rather than the dump. The biggest concern would be that bit on Marketplace where 1 out of 3 skids of products aren't 'sellable' (ie just broken or may contain food products) as they would have to dealt with better as well.
Jr. Member
May 12, 2012
117 posts
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BC
This practice is widely done across many retailers all over the world. It's a "destruction project" that has the disposal site issue a "certificate of destruction." It's a complete scam that walks a fine line on how environmental definitions and importing/exporting works.

Mainly done for three reasons:

1. Hygiene.
2. Preventing goods from getting into the black market.
3. Saves money vs doing it green

Because a TRUE green destruction project requires area of origin for every single material and needs to be stripped down by material for recycling, these companies just wreck it and mix it in with garbage to save money. Take a remote control car for example. The battery, wiring, plastics, etc can all come from different parts of the world. Because they need like 10+ permits and documents they'll just do it for the battery (because they have to) and crush up the rest.

In Canada these companies will pay extra to have photo or video evidence of the material being crushed, ripped, and smashed into pieces. It's then mixed in with general garbage and shipped across the border just as that. Some instances will have it going to an incinerator. Once any material that can be recycled is mixed in with general garbage, it all becomes general garbage and considered the exact same thing as your bin that gets picked up weekly.
Jr. Member
May 12, 2012
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BC
The solution to making this better isn't to shame the companies that do it, but rather revisit how importing and exporting works.

It's EXTREMELY difficult for a company to successfully pull off destruction project with a high diversion rate. The yellow tape around importing and exporting makes it nearly impossible.

Pretty ridiculous how easy it is to pump new product out vs taking them back in.
[OP]
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Jan 7, 2002
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Some of the blame has to be laid at Amazon's feet too. Consider that even if the customer returns the higher priced item unopened and in resellable condition, Amazon still incurs costs associated with receiving, inspecting, restocking, etc. the package. They also have to absorb the costs of processing the original order and shipping it to the customer.

It's hard to believe they can do all that for less than $6. So even ignoring environmental issues, Amazon's no-PM policy doesn't seem to make much sense. (Oh to be a fly on the wall in Jeff's office...)
veni, vidi, Visa
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Nov 15, 2008
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I am sure the guys at the lumber mill enjoyed this, everybody wants to work the night shift. No one can smell their joints blazing when the OPP is incinerating seized weed. Watch your fingers!

(Who cares if they toss tons of cannabis, it's compostable. I just want to see their electricity bill. What a waste.)

How do you destroy $77M worth of pot? Well, you don't put it in a pile 'and spark it up'
https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/ho ... park-it-up

“They’re not going to put it in a big pile outside the building and spark it up — that’s for sure,” she said.

In the early 2000s, as a rookie officer with the Ontario Provincial Police, Carolle Dionne was occasionally tasked with bringing bags of seized cannabis to the lumber mill in Mattawa, Ont. — a small town outside North Bay — where it was incinerated.

“We’d do that in the middle of the night sometimes,” said Dionne, now a staff sergeant with the OPP’s communications department.
Sr. Member
Jan 4, 2008
797 posts
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Mississauga
It's not just Amazon though.

In the past I had an item I had a major issue with (it got damaged in delivery) and the store I bought it from said they'll refund me the money, but don't bother returning it. Either throw it away myself, or give it to charity. So at least they indirectly mentioned they would've thrown it away themselves. Although I'll never get why more don't just donate. I know of some businesses where they throw away used but still good items, when they could easily be donated.

And another company I had an issue with the product told me they'd send a replacement...if I provided proof that I cut up the cord to the item so I could never use it again. That seemed ridiculous. The item did have a small issue with it, but if I'm getting a replacement, I'd rather have donated the old item over completely destroy it.

As for Amazon returns. Its not always about "think before you buy". Items simply dont always work out the way people want. You cant physically see the item so when you do get it, you realize it might not be what you've been looking for.
Deal Addict
Oct 17, 2012
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Vancouver
dxbender wrote: And another company I had an issue with the product told me they'd send a replacement...if I provided proof that I cut up the cord to the item so I could never use it again. That seemed ridiculous. The item did have a small issue with it, but if I'm getting a replacement, I'd rather have donated the old item over completely destroy it.
If they let you keep it and donate it... there would be a lot of dishonest people hitting up Craigslist and Kijiji with items for sale after receiving replacements for their "damaged/defective" products
[OP]
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sunnysidesolutions wrote: If they let you keep it and donate it... there would be a lot of dishonest people hitting up Craigslist and Kijiji with items for sale after receiving replacements for their "damaged/defective" products
Indeed. Both Microsoft and Logitech used to replace meeses under warranty just on the caller's say-so. Good on them.

But once that became widely known people would call in, make up some problem, read the serial number off their perfectly good mouse, then get a free replacement--and then brag about it. It's no wonder neither company does that anymore.
veni, vidi, Visa
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Aug 29, 2012
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Good, recycling is a scam that pollutes more than whatever energy is saved. Ever wonder why we have to ship boatloads and boatloads of unwanted, unusable junk to the third world and they are all turning our ships away now?

It's much better to put everything in the landfill.

Just shipping stuff with another huge truck to another warehouse, then another warehouse, then ANOTHER warehouse so it can be "recycled", and then to ANOTHER warehouse... it is pure stupidity. And then the toxic fumes that are emitted during the "clean recycling" process. Why do people think it helps the environment?

This mass delusion cannot come crashing down soon enough. Fortunately some US towns already cancelled their recycling program after realizing what a waste it is
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Nov 15, 2008
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Poutinesauce wrote: Good, recycling is a scam that pollutes more than whatever energy is saved. Ever wonder why we have to ship boatloads and boatloads of unwanted, unusable junk to the third world and they are all turning our ships away now?

It's much better to put everything in the landfill.

Just shipping stuff with another huge truck to another warehouse, then another warehouse, then ANOTHER warehouse so it can be "recycled", and then to ANOTHER warehouse... it is pure stupidity. And then the toxic fumes that are emitted during the "clean recycling" process. Why do people think it helps the environment?

This mass delusion cannot come crashing down soon enough. Fortunately some US towns already cancelled their recycling program after realizing what a waste it is
You're talking about film plastic, yes that's garbage. They need to burn it. I went to Japan and they had a really nice biological garden in greenhouses all heated by an incineration plant. They can do nice things with this.

Electronics contain gold and the recovery rate is far far higher than the rate you can dig it out of the earth. Municipalities definitely make money on PET and aluminum and any city in the US that cancels aluminum collection under the current regime is led by idiots.

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