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Online shopping has exploded during this year of uncertainty and turmoil. Many people have abandoned shopping in stores on the High Street and taken to shopping online in the comfort and safety of their homes. This pandemic has changed our shopping habits, and unfortunately, small businesses and stores have borne the brunt of this, with many closing their doors.
It is forecast that UK consumers will spend about £141 billion online in 2020. This is an increase of about 35% from 2019.
Have you ever wondered what happens to items bought online, but on delivery, they are not quite what you thought they would be, or maybe they are the wrong size or colour, and you sent them back? Every internet parcel delivered runs a high risk of being sent back as return rates for online shopping are typically three to four times higher than when shopping at a high street store. Clothing is returned even more than other items due to the fact that there is no consistency in sizing, the tendency is to buy a few sizes or colours with the intention of returning the ones that do not fit, or that are not the right colour.
Creating a Mountain of Waste
These unwanted e-commerce items have created a huge environmental problem for online businesses. Unfortunately, it is cheaper and easier for companies to throw these returns away by sending them to landfills, or destroying them, rather than reselling them.
The fashion industry produces in excess of 100 billion clothing items in a year, of which a fifth, or 20 billion items, will not be sold and have to be disposed of one way or another. These textiles present a frightening ecological picture when the wasted natural resources used in their manufacture, and that they either are disposed of in landfills or have to be incinerated, is taken into account. This is a huge source of pollution, and has an effect on greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere and ultimately, on global warming.
Dealing with product returns is one of the most difficult parts of running a brand. Most of us are unaware of what we set in motion when we return an unwanted item. Brands are acutely aware of the effects of negative feedback on their social media channels by dissatisfied customers, and most brands want a better solution than just throwing these in the trash.
Creating a Solution
- Donate returns to local charities. Amazon has recently started a programme where their third-party sellers can donate their returns or excess stock to organizations that will give them away to deserving causes rather than throwing them out. Amazon has had record sales during the pandemic and accounts for about 40% of online sales worldwide. This means an enormous number of returns and waste, so this is an effort to keep huge amounts out of landfills. Types of items given away through charitable organisations include clothing, household appliances, and even school supplies.
- Resale businesses selling straight to a consumer. These businesses buy up merchandise for resale from large brands such as Walmart and Macy’s. Millions of products are sold this way yearly, keeping them out of a landfill.
- Amazon sells returns to e-commerce liquidation websites such as liquidation.com and these sites sell to anyone who wishes to buy them. After all, everyone loves a great bargain!
- Anti-waste legislation is being passed by some governments to prohibit goods that are still able to be used from being destroyed or dumped. France seems to be in the forefront of this. They banned the dumping of food by supermarkets who are now forced to donate it a few years ago, and now have legislated against the destruction of unsold or returned items including electronics, cosmetics, and clothing which now must be reused, recycled, or reallocated to those who need them.
- Using a virtual try-on app such as Bigthinx will hopefully stop clothing returns before they happen, by ensuring that you can “try on” clothes before you order and ensure that your purchases will fit.
Although we all try, and do our bit to protect the environment where we can, and recycle and reuse where possible, we have to realise that our online shopping behaviour could possibly be the opposite of what we are trying to achieve by living as close to a zero-waste lifestyle as possible. We have to realise that the items we order online and return because they do not fit us are most likely destined to land up in a landfill somewhere and that is after it has been shipped around the country, or even further afield, a few times. Many of these products use precious resources when they are manufactured and without even being used once, end up in a landfill, joining the huge amounts of used items already in these landfills.
It is therefore important to begin to hold brands and manufacturers more responsible for the way they are disposing of their returns, but also to change our behaviour as to how we shop online, bearing in mind what happens to our returns.
There are platforms to help retailers and manufacturers resell these items, including a website called Blinq, and it is estimated that this could help reduce landfill waste by up to 70%.
Why Use Junk Removal Wirral?
We may not be able to solve the huge waste problem presented by these returns, but Junk Removal Wirral is there to help you achieve your personal waste goals. We know that most people want to do the right thing by reusing items or recycling where possible. We can collect your waste after hours and on weekends, and we even offer a same day junk removal service. We offer residential junk removal, yard waste removal, and business waste removal in Wirral and surrounds. We are a licensed waste removal company and will dispose of your unwanted garbage in a responsible manner, recycling where we can.
We operate in the Wirral, Chester, Liverpool, Ellesmere Port area and we look forward to hearing from you.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Wirral & Liverpool 01518 080407
Chester: 01244 953100