5 Jul

Trashed or sold again – what happens to returned items?

Products neither come out of space nor disappear there when returned back. It is crucial to keep up the discussion on item’s whole lifecycle so that unnecessary destruction of items and disposable shopping culture ends and the system changes!

In June, the German business weekly WirtschaftsWoche and news show Frontal 21 revealed in their report that the online giant Amazon is destroying massive amounts of returned and as-new items in Germany. They interviewed Amazon’s employees and got internal product lists and photos of disposable items, such as refrigerators, washing machines, electronic devices and furniture.

Fortunately, the topic was brought up since many of us are totally unaware of where do the returned items end up!


Earlier this year, I wrote about deadstock and where do the unsold textiles go. Returned online orders are also a form of pre-consumer waste and, for sure, many of these items are sold in seasonal sales or outlet-stores as is deadstock in general as well. Multinational companies, however, stay silent about it. Return policies should not just handle consumer’s rights but open the long chain of returns more transparently and answer the question of where do products go after returning.

In the worst cases, items are brutally destroyed and clothes are burned, which is far away from the principles of sustainability.

The topic of online orders wakes us also up to consider our consuming habits. Ordering just from pure joy to try something on is a terrible waste of water and other natural resources, not to even mention how much transportation of items back and forth causes emissions. Online giants, like Amazon, have a huge impact on our environment anyway and therefore, even a small action on improving their habits is a massive improvement to the planet.

Of course, this is not a black and white question and to decrease bad purchases, online stores should also have proper products measurements on their sites. In addition, laws on recycling or taxation when donating items should be eyed again and updated.


Weecos supports considered purchases and encourages people to well-considered decisions. But of course, not always is the product as wished. So where do the items, ordered from Weecos, go after returning them? After checking the returned product’s condition, the brands in Weecos put them back to be sold. So state many other Finnish companies too.

As consumers, we too have responsibilities in the long chain of returns. In order to ensure the products fit, for instance, measurements of yourself should be taken. The local brands are also pretty close and easy to catch via social media so send a message and ask for measurements and details if needed. To be able to put the items, for instance clothes, back for others to buy, they must be tried on and returned with care. No piece with make-up stains can be put into markets as a new one and before returning, for example, animals hair should be brushed away and the items should be folded neatly.

Products neither come out of space nor disappear there when returned back. Therefore, it is crucial that we keep up the discussion both in media and the people near us and influence the ones who make new laws and taxes. Because most importantly, our system should be changed so that for multinational companies, destroying as-new items is not a saving but a financial cost!


Want to read more on the topic? Check out these related articles:

What happens to deadstock?

How do Papu Design, Uhana Design and NOUKI handle their deadstock?

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