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Returned Goods End Up in Landfill

The returned goods eventually enter the landfill

Every year, 5 billion pounds of waste are generated through returns.

This is something I have never considered! The goods I return may end up in landfill! ! I always think that too small shoes or itchy pullovers that I send back to the online store will eventually return to the shelf for resale.

It's not like this! The fact is, most of them ended up in landfill! That is, once it is shipped to the whole country or even the world several times.

According to Optoro, a company specializing in the flow of returned goods, in the United States alone, customers return approximately 3.5 billion products each year, of which only 20% are actually defective.

From an economic and environmental point of view, the flow of goods to customers and back to retailers is flawed.

"We know that many returned products are landfilled before we use them. This will only increase the large number of used items that have already been landfilled... These products use increasingly scarce and precious resources, and we are throwing them away. Take them away unnecessarily," said Sarah Needham of the Centre for Sustainable Fashion at the University of the Arts London.

Our return not only creates a huge carbon footprint, but it is also a real problem for the company. The new pair of shoes you sent back, together with the opened box and the untied laces, need to be handled differently from the cracked T-shirt. Many companies simply don’t have the proper technology to handle these changes in returns, so they are usually most profitable by selling them cheaply to discount stores through the transportation network, driving and flying around the world, or simply trucking them to Landfill.

According to Carly Llewellyn, Optoro's senior marketing director, the return system is extremely inefficient. "Historically, the way retailers handle returns is to return a bunch of items to the store or warehouse. Usually they wait a few months because they don’t have the technology to know how to deal with them. Eventually they will go to the wholesaler or clearing house. Try to resell them through all these middlemen. It’s not good for the environment—because too many goods are shipped across the country—and it’s also bad for retailers who barely make money."

Optoro estimates that 5 billion pounds of waste are generated through returns every year, and 15 million metric tons of carbon dioxide are emitted into the atmosphere!

Clothes and shoes have gone through many processes that are harmful to the environment, from making fabrics (usually using fossil fuels) to dyeing them with toxic chemicals. The large-scale manufacturing of the factory will emit carbon emissions into the air, and then the clothes will be transported many times around the world, and eventually can only be piled up in a landfill because they are not easy to be transported to a new home.

This is a question we are unlikely to hear. We know that purchasing fashionable items such as cotton, leather and wool can lead to habitat degradation, and the manufacturing process can lead to climate change and pollute our oceans (according to the 2016 International Union for Conservation of Nature report). But what about the rest of the fashion supply chain?

Optoro believes it has a viable solution. Its software can help retailers and manufacturers more easily resell unsold and surplus goods. They provide retailers with multiple options, including a website called Blinq that resells merchandise, and helps reroute items to donations, store shelves, Amazon, or eBay. They estimate that their work will help reduce landfill waste by 70%.

Excerpt from: "Your brand new return ends up in landfill" by Harriet Constable. Thanks to BBC Earth-for the full article, please visit the BBC Earth Blog

But we can all help here. Nowadays, order a selection of 10 dresses at home to try on the sizes and see if they fit us, keep a few and return the rest, which seems acceptable. I even heard a comedian on TV the other night that she ordered an expensive dress, wore it on a special occasion, and then returned it the next day. "Well, don't we all do this?" She and the audience both laughed! When you know the facts, isn't this a ridiculous thing! ?

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