Environment secretary 'considering law change' after ITV News investigation shows Amazon binning unsold goods

The environment secretary has said he is considering whether there needs to be a law change after ITV News revealed that online giant Amazon is destroying millions of items of unsold stock every year, products that are often new and unused.

George Eustice branded this a "chronic waste" while appearing before a House of Lords Environment and Climate Change Committee.

Undercover filming from inside an Amazon warehouse reveals the sheer scale of waste, which includes Smart TVs, laptops, books and sealed face masks – all sorted into boxes marked “destroy”.

Another whistleblower told ITV News that Amazon dumps thousands of unsold items.

Many of the items being thrown away were still in their packaging. Credit: ITV News

Speaking anonymously, a former Amazon employee at a Hertfordshire centre said the issue is widespread in the company.

"Lots of things from brand new iPhones to PlayStations, we got rid of brand new books," he told ITV News.

Asked if he believes unsold items are dumped across other centres, he said: "In every single facility it happens, trust me, it does.

This is not illegal under current UK law and Amazon UK say they are changing towards the circular economy and that nothing goes to landfill.

In a statement given to ITV News last month, the company said: "We do not send a single item to landfill in the UK.

"Every year we donate millions of products to charities across the country. We’ve got more work to do but our goal is to get to zero product disposal.“

However, ITV News saw evidence that 124,000 items did get sent for destruction at their Dunfermline warehouse in just one week.

Watch footage showing the 'destruction zone' in Amazon's Dunfermline warehouse where millions of unsold items are destroyed every year

Appearing before the committee, Mr Eustice said that after he learnt of the story he asked his officials to investigate the matter and to consider if there needs to be a change to the law.

"Really it does sound like an extraordinary approach just to be disposing of goods which are perfectly good but just don't have a home and they can't be bothered to store them," Mr Eustice told MPs.

"Obviously that is a chronic waste and we are looking at things like the WEEE [waste electrical and electronic equipment] regulations that we have on electronic goods that are there in retained EU law.

"We are looking at whether there are more things we can do to encourage the repair of electrical equipment.

"You know, often there's this big problem that white goods like washing machines, they'll have this component that goes wrong and then frankly it's cheaper to buy a new one than to try and repair the old one.

"We need a culture change there, so it's an issue we're looking at more broadly, but I'm happy to write to the committee with an update on the specific outcome from Amazon 'cause when I asked our officials to investigate I haven't had any further feedback from them yet."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously called Amazon's practices “bizarre and unacceptable" and said he is “shocked and amazed” by ITV News' reports.