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Online shopping has become the safe way to shop. As High Street stores see greatly reduced numbers, and traditional shopping habits change, consumers are following this trend in great numbers. The unfortunate consequence of this is that many small business owners and stores have suffered because of this, leading to their trade levels dropping, and many going out of business. 

In the UK, alone online sales have shown a remarkable 35% increase over last year, now at a mind boggling £141 million. 

As opposed to choosing a product online, shopping in a store offers the ability to see and feel what you are buying first-hand. In the case of clothing, going into a fitting room to try the piece on, looking in the mirror deciding whether it fits, or if the style and colour is what you want. When buying online, a lot of purchases end up not what you thought they would be. The fact is that online shopping return rates are three to four times higher than in-store shopping. This is due to the lack of the “look, see and feel factor” associated with in-store purchases.

With such high rates of returns, do you know how much this amounts to and what online retailers do with them? 


Creating a Mountain of Waste

The high level of returns experienced by online businesses pose a huge problem of what to do with the unwanted merchandise. Regrettably, the least expensive route is to destroy the goods instead of putting them back into stock for resale. In doing so, they are simply dumped into landfills. 

One fifth of the clothing items sold in the fashion industry, representing 20 billion pieces of clothing are discarded this way. As you can imagine this is a massive amount of clothing material that gets wasted. If they are incinerated, the pollution caused and greenhouse gas generated is excessive, while the items thrown into the landfill amount to a big number indeed.

Brand owners are constantly seeking more eco-friendly ways of dealing with the disposal of product returns. Consumers are oblivious to the chain of events that take place when they simply return an item to the online retailer. Perhaps more care should be taken with brand choice in the first place.


Creating a Solution

What possible solutions are there to this problem?

  • The first could be the donation of the rejected products to charities. Who is doing this? It seems Amazon has been forward thinking in this regard by encouraging the donation of returns or excess stock to charitable organizations who can use these items. Amazon as the worldwide leader in online sales has a big role to play in helping to find a solution to the excessive waste generated this way.
  • These items typically include clothing, household appliances, and school supplies.
  • Then there are channels where a reseller who markets goods straight to consumers can purchase rejected online purchases for resale. These will be big names like Walmart and Macy’s and this will help keep unsold goods from ending up as waste in landfills.
  • Liquidation websites are also popular platforms for selling returns from online retailers like Amazon. These are popular sites for bargain hunters: and there are plenty of them!
  • Around the world there is an anti-waste movement prohibiting usable goods from being dumped or disposed of into waste streams. In France in particular, no dumping of food products from supermarkets is permissible. Any leftover food should be donated while other goods like clothes, cosmetics and electronic equipment should be donated to the needy. 
  • Other ways of reducing the chances of having to send online purchases back are being investigated. An app called Bigthinx, allows would-be buyers the opportunity to “try on” clothes before they buy them. 

It's likely that many people don’t realize that when they buy online and return their purchases, they normally end up unused in the landfill. This negates all efforts we encourage to recycle or reuse. It’s also the complete opposite to the zero-waste life some of us are aiming at. The fact that each time something is manufactured from new, raw materials, using energy, water, and at a cost, there is a chance that all of this will just go to waste. 

To reduce this wastage the question needs to be asked as to how do we get people to change their shopping habits, or is it the responsibility of the online shopper to be more vigilant when selling their goods?

Of course, it’s a combination of both. If shoppers could be more careful when selecting their products in the first place by doing research, using apps, reading reviews, and being aware of the consequences of rejecting a purchase. Secondly, by holding the brand owners and manufacturers to account for the way in which unsold or returned items are disposed of, will go a long way to reducing the current trend. 

This is a huge market opportunity for enterprising resellers of “unused” items. Resellers such as Blinq are in the market to do so. These channels could go a long way to helping take the pressure of dumping into landfills, some estimate by as much as 70%.


Why Use Rubbish Removal Chester?

As a concerned waste management company, we are continuously looking at ways to reduce the burden of waste disposal on the environment. In this case, while there is little we can do about shoppers’ online habits; we feel it’s important to highlight the problem. We encourage everyone to recycle and reuse where they can, and would like to think that we can help you achieve your waste reduction goals. 

Our services in your community are conducted 6 days a week and we even provide a same day junk removal service if so required. As a licensed waste removal company, we collect and dispose of junk in a responsible manner, recycling where we can. 

When you view our reviews, you will notice that customers will tell you that we have a great reputation for excellent customer service. We provide reliable and professional waste removal and disposal services when you need them.

Please contact us today for a No Obligation quote: 

Chester 01244 953100