Most of the Retailers Throw Your Returns in the Landfill and You Can Avoid This By Following Some Tips

Retailers are facing a growing problem with the increasing number of returns that are being made by customers. While many of these returns are in like-new condition, they often end up in landfills, contributing to the waste crisis that the world is currently facing. The extent of this problem is not well known, as retailers do not like to share this information, according to Glenn Richey, who is the chair of the Department of Supply Chain Management (DSCM). Retailers fear that being caught disposing of returns could result in negative publicity, and they can ruin their brand reputation this way.

The returns tech platform, Optoro, estimated that as many as 9.6 billion pounds of returns ended up in landfills in 2021. This is equivalent to 10,500 fully loaded Boeing 747s and represents a 65% increase from the previous year. The amount of returns made by Americans has increased significantly in recent years, reaching $816 billion in 2022, a 7% rise from the previous year. The increase comes after a 78% jump from 2020 to 2021. The National Retail Federation (NRF) reports that returns are just a mathematical problem for many retailers without strong environmental or moral values. The cost of processing returns is high, involving shipping, inspection, repacking, and reselling. If the cost exceeds the value of the item, it is often discarded, leading to a large amount of waste ending up in landfills. To tackle this problem, some companies are adopting environmentally focused strategies to reduce waste and improve sustainability.

However, not all returns processors follow the same philosophy, leading to a massive amount of waste being sent to landfills every year. The increase in online shopping and the subsequent increase in returns has created a huge problem for the retail industry.

Consumers can take certain steps to reduce the chances of their returns ending up in landfills. These include considering the size and value of a product before purchasing, avoiding "bracketing" and "wardrobing," making fast returns in original packaging, and opting for high-quality, durable products. Retailers are also investing in returns technology and advanced strategies, and consolidation strategies used by major retailers like Amazon can reduce shipping costs. Companies specializing in returned products, such as Floorfound for furniture and Rebel Stork for baby gear, are also popping up. Overall, the increasing number of returns and the drive towards sustainability are pushing retailers to find innovative ways to reduce waste and minimize their environmental impact.

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