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Buying online may be very convenient, but it has its drawbacks. The benefit of not having to go anywhere to purchase something may be outweighed by the environmental damage online shopping returns are causing. Online return waste management, you see, is not up to scratch.
With levels of returns much higher than conventional shopping, retailers are faced with very high levels of waste. As they are busy with marketing and sales, waste management of returns appears not to be a priority to them, as many are simply dumping them into landfills.
But for customers that is not their worry. The fact that they have the freedom to order anything they like online with the guarantee from the online seller that they can return it and get their money back if they don’t like them, is risk-free.
But little do most shoppers know that their returns, which in most cases they haven’t used, are not sold again. You may have expected this, but this is not what happens in reality. Online retailers don’t have time to inspect the returned product, amend any packaging, and get them back on the shelves. No, they are rejected and disposed of.
So more junk is generated this way, and only good waste management measures would be able to prevent this relatively new waste stream from increasing further. At Junk Removal Wirral we are waste management practitioners attending to junk removal in the community. Let’s ask a few questions first:
If more customers knew what happens to their online returns, they would be more careful with their purchases. Or is the onus solely on the online retailer to manage their returns better?
Products that Could Be Recycled go to Landfills.
You’d expect that a brand new pair of shoes that has been returned only because the size was wrong would be put back in the box and resold. Even if it is resold at a discount, at least it isn’t turned into junk and dumped unnecessarily.
But there is another environmental consideration as well. Remembering that the product has been shipped to the customer at a cost, including a cost in terms of CO2 emissions, now it doubles the emissions when it is returned.
Research shows that only 20% of the returns are defective, while the rest are simply not what the customer had in mind, and the returns policy says they can be sent back. So how can this all be avoided so that online businesses becomes more environmentally conscious?
The Supply Chain
We are living in an era in which rubbish removal and disposal are under constant scrutiny. The reason for this is quite clear: there is too much junk being generated and it is having an effect on the ecosystem. This in turn is causing us damage in the form of health risks and sustainability on the earth we live on.
Manufacturers use raw materials to make goods for consumer markets. Production consumes energy and the transport of goods to markets results in CO2 emissions. Online marketers take on the products for sale to consumers.
All these efforts come to nothing when the customer rejects the products and it is thrown into a pile of other rotting junk at the landfill. Is this right?
Clearly, it is not right. So, what can be done about it?
Resell and Recycle
Reselling the goods is one way of recycling them, even if it is at a discount. The value and life of the goods are retained this way, and the landfill is avoided. It sounds simple, and it should be. All it takes is a little effort.
An inspection of the goods can certify their condition and they can be uploaded onto a website. This reselling is the new recycling, and the environmental issues are avoided.
While it sounds like a simple solution, it is still quite complicated in theory. A lot of fashion items get sold online, and there will be risks involved in pre-worn clothing being offered for resale.
Could sending the items back to the manufacturer work? It’s been investigated, and it is apparent that it is not financially worthwhile for the maker of the product to do something about a garment or product that has been returned. It’s far easier and cheaper to ditch it into the landfill.
So, with these dynamics at play, what is the outlook going forward?
Online Junk: Will it Continue to Grow?
Some of the answers to this question lie in the way online returns are managed. With fashion comprising over 30% of the returns compared with electronics at 7%, the fashion industry is an obvious starting point.
Fashion companies are increasingly using specialist companies to help manage their returns in order to improve their environmental footprint. Some fashion brands are increasingly becoming more “organic” and customers are becoming more aware of the need to support these kinds of products.
In addition, some fashion brands are discouraging returns, or not making it as easy for consumers to return purchases.
It will take a change of mindset because consumers are used to being able to return fashion purchases on a whim. But by comparison, look how effective a campaign has been to reduce plastic usage when a ban on plastic bags was introduced eight years ago. It proves that a single decision can make a big difference.
Junk is all Our Concern
We all try to look good and fashion is one of the ways we do it. If we can all make good choices when it comes to online shopping, they will definitely contribute to lower returns. The fashion and retail industry could get a little more discerning and environmentally conscious about their actions, this would also make a good contribution to the lowering of returns and where they end up.
In your environment, cleanliness starts with junk removal and responsible waste management. This is what we do at Junk Removal Wirral.
If you need the team from Junk Removal Wirral to assist at any time, please call us on
the following number: 0151 808 0407.
We will be glad to hear from you.