Shopping Discussion

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

  • Last Updated:
  • Oct 18th, 2020 9:16 pm
Penalty Box
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Aug 29, 2012
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lecale wrote: 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.
Yes a few precious metals like gold and aluminum, I agree.

The rest is unusable junk and I don't understand why it is still being pursued.

I think it is because Westerners see this as a way to feel good about themselves, without having to actually sacrifice anything or do any real work or effort, or impact their lifestyle in any way.
Deal Guru
Nov 15, 2008
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Poutinesauce wrote: Yes a few precious metals like gold and aluminum, I agree.

The rest is unusable junk and I don't understand why it is still being pursued.

I think it is because Westerners see this as a way to feel good about themselves, without having to actually sacrifice anything or do any real work or effort, or impact their lifestyle in any way.
Recycling glass to glass is pointless because it is too costly, but recycling glass to fiberglass makes perfect sense.

PET is big too, they use it for all kids of textiles. Carpet, clothing, those awful $.99 reusable shopping bags they have at the grocery store. PET-based textiles are huge now.

Some recycling ideas have in fact been fully abandoned.

The plastics industry thought they could be virtuous if everyone would just collect & recycle all the plastic film they were belting out (i.e., single-use plastic shopping bags). Turns out this plastic ends up too contaminated with other stuff to be recycled into useful plastic again, the only use is to burn it.

Recyclers pushed the dirty plastic film on anyone who would have it, and had found markets in the third world. The third world found the plastic recovered was useless and abandoned recycling it. Then there were a whole bunch of container ships drifting around full of dirty plastic film waiting for the plastics industry to accept that the only true way forward is to ban single-use plastic shopping bags.
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Dec 19, 2001
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Fernando Poo
Don't think they dump it all, they just sell it to me as new.
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Deal Expert
Jun 30, 2006
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Toronto
Certain things they can't resell, they will dump like clothing etc. But electronics they generally sell as Open-box.
Deal Addict
Mar 20, 2016
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Montreal
dxbender wrote: 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.
To avoid the situation of your last point, we should buy less online and try things out in-store.
[OP]
Deal Expert
Jan 7, 2002
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sneakerfan wrote: To avoid the situation of your last point, we should buy less online and try things out in-store.
Or try things out in-store, then buy them for less online :twisted: Smiling Face With Open Mouth And Smiling Eyes
veni, vidi, Visa
Deal Guru
Mar 14, 2005
13811 posts
2498 upvotes
Very depressing episode, but amazon is not the problem. The problem is systemic. Even if u keep the product, either there is built-in obsolescence (tech products), or it will break down in a short period of time (plastic parts). If u buy products in brick and mortar stores, the item still likely was manufactured overseas. Don't delude urself u r doing the environment a favour. Reduce Reuse Recycle is the way to go.
Deal Expert
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Jan 7, 2007
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Poormond Hill
The problem is not only Amazon. It's in all retail.
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Deal Fanatic
Mar 21, 2010
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Toronto
The problem is that people don't care as much as they say they do. "Ethical" retailers/manufacturers tend to be niche or unsuccessful or become like everyone else over time. Amazon could set up a whole division to manage returns less wastefully, donate things to local shelters, etc. - but that all costs money, and if they raise their prices to compensate for this, people will just order more from Walmart or AliExpress or eBay instead. Likewise if Amazon starts charging a restocking fee, or actually investigates whether someone is returning something for a false reason to avoid being charged, people will just move to a "friendlier" retailer. The government could force an 'eco fee' on all products to offset disposal costs, but no one votes for more taxes. At the end of the day, Joe Average is going to look out for his own interests when no one is watching.
Deal Expert
Jan 27, 2006
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Manatus wrote: The problem is that people don't care as much as they say they do. "Ethical" retailers/manufacturers tend to be niche or unsuccessful or become like everyone else over time. Amazon could set up a whole division to manage returns less wastefully, donate things to local shelters, etc. - but that all costs money, and if they raise their prices to compensate for this, people will just order more from Walmart or AliExpress or eBay instead. Likewise if Amazon starts charging a restocking fee, or actually investigates whether someone is returning something for a false reason to avoid being charged, people will just move to a "friendlier" retailer. The government could force an 'eco fee' on all products to offset disposal costs, but no one votes for more taxes. At the end of the day, Joe Average is going to look out for his own interests when no one is watching.
I would like to point out that for many things, Amazon isn't cheap so the price, for many Amazon shoppers, isn't the key driver for them to shop there. Plus, while it does cost money to treat the returns better, Amazon has a history of throwing money at situations with no apparent monetary gain - ie their pledge to go completely carbon neutral and all of their advertising about buying electric trucks and the like.
Deal Addict
Aug 27, 2003
1916 posts
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Is it known what percentage of purchases are returned to Amazon?

We've been in the era of hyper-consumerism for quite some time for various reasons, but COVID has certainly exacerbated the problem. I'd also be surprised if Amazon is the only retailer who practices this. Amazon's painless return policy is a double-edged sword. On the one had, for legit returns where something is defective or the wrong product was received, the customer gets quick resolution. On the other hand, it enables the "buy now, think later" mentality where people buy stuff that they may not have actually thought through, or buy more just to get free shipping and return the items they didn't intend on keeping.

In other countries around the world, retail return polices aren't always so generous (talking about stores, not Amazon). In some cases, everything is a final sale unless there is a defect in the product. That would certainly curb this kind of behaviour.
Deal Addict
Jul 19, 2004
1394 posts
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Vancouver
ShinNoodles wrote: Is it known what percentage of purchases are returned to Amazon?

We've been in the era of hyper-consumerism for quite some time for various reasons, but COVID has certainly exacerbated the problem. I'd also be surprised if Amazon is the only retailer who practices this. Amazon's painless return policy is a double-edged sword. On the one had, for legit returns where something is defective or the wrong product was received, the customer gets quick resolution. On the other hand, it enables the "buy now, think later" mentality where people buy stuff that they may not have actually thought through, or buy more just to get free shipping and return the items they didn't intend on keeping.

In other countries around the world, retail return polices aren't always so generous (talking about stores, not Amazon). In some cases, everything is a final sale unless there is a defect in the product. That would certainly curb this kind of behaviour.
I've read an article where they calculated that companies make more money overall by offering a return policy (vs a tight return policy/final sale) as it gives the customer the buy now think later mentality. I'm sure Amazon made the same calculations and probably came to the same conclusion. Unfortunately in this case you do end up in situations where you are just creating waste and inefficiency.
Deal Expert
Feb 7, 2017
20848 posts
19101 upvotes
Eastern Ontario
I grew up in a time when money was a precious thing
The term ... DISPOSABLE Income didn’t exist
(1950s / 60s kid ... 1 working parent ... 5-1/2 Day Work Weeks = Monday Morning thru to Saturday Noon)

Was taught that money was foremost to be RESPECTED
Followed by SAVED for a Rainy Day / Emergency / The Future

We bought what we NEEDED
There were few DESIRES / WANTS
Splurges ... if they happened at all
Were Christmas

Lol, clothes were mostly a necessity
Closets were small, cuz most of your clothes went into one chest of drawers
And only your GOOD STUFF actually needed a hanger

Shoes ... 3 pairs
One indoor, 1 outdoor, and sneakers for Gym Class
A pair of rubber boots / goulashes... and a pair of winter boots

If you did buy something (anything not just clothes)
You saved up
You did your homework on quality vs price
You bought the best you could afford in hopes it would last a long time

You were expected to TAKE CARE OF YOUR STUFF so it did last a long time
And therefore was also RESPECTFUL to the one who bought it, and worked hard for the money to pay for it

You went to a store to try on things
Even if you catalogue shopped ... you rarely returned anything
Cuz you had done your homework well

There was no buy, buy, buy
Or shop on a whim
(Retail Therapy ... filling an emotional void)
Like people do now
I still don’t get WHY people order say 10 pairs of shoes
If they only are needing one pair
Just go to a dang store ... and try them on
Ordering 10, and returning 9 ... is just wrong
And to find out they go in the trash ... and still do it
Sickening

And don’t get me started on Amazon in general
It’s exceedingly wrong that they treat their merchandise with such disregard
It appals me when I hear stories like
“They sent me the wrong size / colour ... said keep it ... they’ll send me another” etc
There is NO INCENTIVE HERE for the Co or the Consumer here to do the right thing
Which makes it even more wrong

Consumerism gone crazy
Bad for the environment
But also bad for others in this economy
And a p!ss poor example of what we should be doing with our lives
And teaching our kids

It goes back to that whole concept of RESPECT
Respect for what we are given in life
And how we should be using those skills, talents, etc
For GOOD & STEWARDSHIP ... not for just GREED & SELFISHNESS
Deal Addict
Jun 27, 2006
1880 posts
2115 upvotes
Their pricing might be good and the variety of products unmatched but I have made the decision not to shop with them. For me, they represent the destruction of the brick and mortar business. I would rather support the local businesses that aside from offering work in the area, provide a sense of community that online cannot. I think this is even more important given how local businesses have been hit under Covid. When you have a group of stores together, that only helps support an area / community. I do shop online but generally at traditional retailer that happens to have an online presence, it is just easier and frankly, sometimes cheaper but have no problem supporting a local store when I can as I just enjoy shopping in person.
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Sep 9, 2017
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Winnipeg
TomLafinsky wrote: In a world where gratification is achieved through materialism???
Dare to dream? Just thought I’d put it out there lol.

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