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How returned items impact the environment (VIDEO).
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How returned items impact the environment (VIDEO).

Optoro is a logistics company that specializes on returning merchandise and estimates that returned inventory generates 5.8 billion lbs of waste annually.

January is the best month for holiday gift return. Before you return that holiday gift, here’s a warning. Returns can have a negative impact on the environment. 

“This year, the U.S. will have returned products worth half of a trillion dollars,” Hitendra Chaturvedi, a professor at Arizona State University. Hitendra Chaturvedi, a professor at Arizona State University, stated that the amount would be approximately $120 to $150 billion during the holiday season. 

Many retailers recognize that 25% of returns are thrown away. Chaturvedi is an expert in supply chain management and says that 25% of returns end up being tossed out.

He estimates that more than 80% of returned products end up in landfills, while the rest are sent to developing countries as garbage. Some returned products are sold on secondary markets, but many more end up in landfills. A returned item may end up costing more to resell than it does to throw it away. 

Chaturvedi stated, “The cost to process the product during COVID time when you have sanitize and repackage it is more than its value.”

It ends up in the dump. Optoro, a logistics firm that specializes in returning merchandise, estimates that 5.8 billion pounds of trash is created each year by the return inventory. 

Meagan K. Knowlton, Optoro’s director of sustainability, said that “the returns problem is only going increase this year and over the next years.” “Fortunately, quite some retailers and brands in this market recognize it not only as a problem, however, they also see it as an opportunity.”

A chance to address sustainability. Trucks re-shipping products back to customers create greenhouse gas emissions. 

Chaturvedi said that each item generated about half of a pound of greenhouse gasses during the journey. 

Optoro is a company that helps companies manage product return efficiently. It also resells returned goods bulk, so they don’t end up in a dump. Chaturvedi states that sustainable returns can be profitable. It’s great publicity, it makes for excellent customer service, and companies can efficiently reuse and resell products. 

There are also ways consumers can help. 

Knowlton states, “Really think about the products you’re buying and the foods you’re eating. And in the context gift giving, are you giving people products they will actually use?”

You can also return products as soon as possible. Don’t wait for the end of the return window to have it relisted. Buy from companies that clearly state how they use sustainable return strategies. 

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