back to article Green MSP calls on Scottish government to stop spending £4.7m a year with AWS after Amazon 'dumping' allegations

A leading Green MSP has called for the Scottish government to sever all ties with Amazon – including the £4.7m a year it spends on AWS – following a report alleging the e-tailer dumps thousands of unsold items each week. Lorna Slater, co-leader of the Scottish Greens, raised the issue with Nicola Sturgeon on Thursday during …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "we do not send items to landfill in the UK"

    We send them to landfills in China.

    It boggles the mind to imagine that millions of brand new items are destroyed. Why ? Can't they just stay on the shelves until they get sold ?

    This is clearly the worst aspect of our wasteful society. We make things, use resources, and destroy them before they can ever become useful.

    If Amazon has so much stuff it can't sell, it should seriously review its decision process on what items it acquires in the first place. And, if an item really does not sell well, then bite the bullet and put it in the dollar bin at 99 cents. I'm pretty sure that you'll ship a lot more and won't need to landfill them.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: "we do not send items to landfill in the UK"

      I am curious to know how much packing from Amazon goes to landfill each year, at some 2.5 billion packages due to ship this year, that is a lot of cardboard and bubble wrap.

      Particularly when Amazon has a habit of sending tiny items in large boxes full of padding.

      I think the various monopolies commissions around the world should get together and dismantle amazon and regulate the hell out of what is left.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: "we do not send items to landfill in the UK"

        I wonder how much of this is Amazon-owned stock, vs stock from suppliers being charged to store it? I did get the impression from the report that it was mostly the second.

        Which does not pardon the waste, of course, but it might suggest that perhaps the model of make cheap crap and hope you can flog it is perhaps not the wisest choice?

        1. FlamingDeath Silver badge

          Re: "we do not send items to landfill in the UK"

          “I like money” - Frito

          Dystopian future, or documentary?

        2. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

          Re: "we do not send items to landfill in the UK"

          The problem is, of course, that if they gave awsy the unsold stuff, it would depress the value of similar items in the store, reducing profit. Can't have that.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "we do not send items to landfill in the UK"

        "I am curious to know how much packing from Amazon goes to landfill each year"

        There was an article in the Grauniad this week about the current shortage of packaging. The industry does a huge amount of recycling, but people are currently hanging on to a lot of packaging so their isn't enough raw material to make new packaging. I was pleasantly surprised that there is so much recycling going on - in my area the council recently admitted that all the rcycled items we carefully clean and bag up are just incinerated :-(

        1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

          Re: "we do not send items to landfill in the UK"

          > the council recently admitted that all the rcycled items we carefully clean and bag up are just incinerated

          This is a secret program to get people off the telly to exercise a bit.

      3. IGotOut Silver badge

        Re: "we do not send items to landfill in the UK"

        "I am curious to know how much packing from Amazon goes to landfill each year.... "

        I can't recall the last parcel from Amazon (not a 3rd party reseller) that had any bubble wrap.

        All paper or cardboard. I'd say their packaging is a magnitude more eco friendly than your average high street shop or supermarket.

        1. katrinab Silver badge
          Meh

          Re: "we do not send items to landfill in the UK"

          My last package did, though the bubble wrap was very large bubbles, and mostly air with very little plastic. Once I stabbed the bubbles, there was very little left to go in the bin.

          1. Ordinary Donkey

            Re: "we do not send items to landfill in the UK"

            I never tried stabbing it, is that more therapeutic than just crushing it?

    2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: "we do not send items to landfill in the UK"

      Big companies can afford to do that, because they don't pay taxes (or very little), so they have more money than honest smaller businesses.

      They also pay the workers way below the value they produce. It's all modern slavery 2.0

    3. Richard Jones 1

      Re: "we do not send items to landfill in the UK"

      How much was from third party sellers, was found to be unsafe, be in breach of copyright, or subject to other no-sale, no-distribute, restrictions?

      1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Re: "we do not send items to landfill in the UK"

        I think "owned by a third party seller that went bust, A isn't allowed to sell it on its own account, and no one wants it back" was one formula offered for this outcome.

    4. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: "we do not send items to landfill in the UK"

      Amazon is obviously going to have products nobody wants to buy or they can't buy because of expiration dates (e.g. food products). But they should be compelled to make best efforts to sell items before it gets to that point and they shouldn't be rewarded if they have to junk items after the fact.

      1. TheProf
        Facepalm

        Re: "we do not send items to landfill in the UK"

        "they should be compelled to make best efforts to sell items"

        Fuck me says Amazon's board of directors. Why didn't we think of that?

    5. ICL1900-G3 Bronze badge

      Re: "we do not send items to landfill in the UK"

      You can't help wondering about the numb-brains who downvoted this.

    6. 6491wm

      Re: "we do not send items to landfill in the UK"

      "We send them to landfills in China."

      However once they get to China they are carefully unpacked , dusted off and then sent back to the UK to be put up for sale on sites such as Amazon & Ebay.

      ;o)

    7. Dave 15 Silver badge

      Re: "we do not send items to landfill in the UK"

      Worse we plough food back into the fields because they are the wrong shape or size for the supermarkets. We destroy repairable items because some knobhead has decided we cant take serviceable parts from stuff in the council tip etc. (That one was forest heath district council, my sons bike crank had come loose and was damaged, the obvious was to take one from the piles of scrap bikes in the council tip, only thats not allowed - so instead the council had to take the bikes apart and melt the bits down (or most likely chuck them in a landfil in Africa where all the FHDC recycling ends up) while I had to import some newly made ones (we dont make them in the UK) from China (everything is made there by factories powered by our discarded coal power stations) wrap it in plastic, include with it some more parts I didnt actually need because thats how it is package, ship it around the world then unwrap and discard to landfill all the surplus packaging and parts - environmentally friendly - clearly!

    8. hoola Silver badge

      Re: "we do not send items to landfill in the UK"

      It is probably not their loss or markdown. the costs will just be charged back to the supplier. This is just how businesses like this work. It is very rare that discounts and BOGOF deals actually cost the big retailers anything. The supplier just has no option but to suck it up or be told you are no longer a supplier.

      All these items that are dumped will be listed as being sent back to the supplier or a third party for recycling so Amazon's books will looks squeaky clean. The worst of the worst.

  2. keithpeter Silver badge
    Windows

    With the current pause in underlying processor speed for personal computers it seems likely that manufacturers could make a '10 year computer' with replaceable parts and upgradeable storage and RAM &c, both laptop and desktop/nuc format.

    Anything to stem the flow of precious heavy metals to landfill/recycling.

    https://www.storyofstuff.org/

    Another example of regulations needed to price in external costs I think.

    1. IGotOut Silver badge

      Like say my 9 year old old ipad or 8 year old pc, or my dad's 13 year old pc.

      I swapped out th HDDs for SSDs a few years back and bought them back into life.

    2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      it seems likely that manufacturers could make a '10 year computer' with replaceable parts and upgradeable storage and RAM &c

      Wouldn't be necessary if companies like Microsoft stopped producing ever more unnecessarily bloated versions of their OSes.

  3. Ken G Bronze badge
    Holmes

    I'm with them in spirit

    But cloud hosting isn't something that can be provided for long by two men with a shed in Perthshire. If you don't want to support multi-nationals maybe go back to hosting on premises?

  4. karlkarl Silver badge

    That is great to see.

    Frankly I cringe to think about how much of my tax is just handed to Microsoft or the big cloud arses. Especially after all my attempts to sever all ties with them 15-20 years ago.

  5. DrXym Silver badge

    Seems like the least reason to dump them

    There are plenty of others - oppressive work conditions & low pay, union busting, micromanagement, anticompetitive behaviour etc.

    Aside from that there are two major issues that governments really need to get a clue on - national security, and why????

    Amazon is a US company and it doesn't matter where they claim to warehouse data, or how it is encrypted. At the end of the day it's held on their servers and potentially outside the jurisdiction of client. It is a risk in being, hanging over the data forever more.

    The second question is why??? The Scottish government has money (and seems hung up on the idea of independence) so why aren't they developing their own cloud services instead of forking out £5 million each year? It would be money well spent to identify what it is they use in AWS and just develop equivalents. I'm sure other governments are in the same boat so perhaps they could even spread the cost of developing an alternative platform that they all fork for their own needs.

    1. TheHareBear

      Re: Seems like the least reason to dump them

      I can see it now: the SNP take on the G-Cloud Westminster rule with... Aye Cloud.

    2. nijam Silver badge

      Re: Seems like the least reason to dump them

      > ... why aren't they developing their own cloud services instead of forking out £5 million each year?

      Bec ause they're a government so (a) it would be £5 million down the drain, and (b) it would all go to either one of their good mates, or to a a multinational service company who would make a pig's ear of it anyway.

      1. DrXym Silver badge

        Re: Seems like the least reason to dump them

        No doubt that's a risk, but if they were smart about it then it needn't work out that way.

        Start by finding out what services they use on AWS, why and for how much. There must be egregious & pointless storage and computation going on that they could eliminate straightaway. Of the rest, they could identify the low hanging fruit and move that. The savings would allow them to tackle some of the more complex uses of AWS which I doubt are *that* complex - probably using storage, messaging or similar services.

      2. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Seems like the least reason to dump them

        Create a ScotCloud network of data centre zones powered with abundant hydro energy to cover national government work with enough capacity to meet the needs of all the local gov and councils. Internal charge the councils less than the money they would waste with corporate cloud to cover costs. Develop a commercial arm.

        1. gryphon

          Re: Seems like the least reason to dump them

          Govt. so called commercial arms usually end up being a disaster. Local council ones are even worse with electricity providers and massive real estate portfolios that always lose money. Usually a disaster story every month in Private Eye.

          Would be interesting if Scotland did become independent about what would happen to data sovereignty. Couldn’t stay in AWS or Azure UK regions, couldn’t use European ones, couldn’t use UK Crown Hosting datacentres.

          Considering that SNP last time around put the total transition costs of independence at £50 million you’d be lucky to get a decent car park for a Tier 4 data centre for that.

  6. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Ah, the Greens: always the wrong answer to the wrong problem.

    1. albaleo

      I think the wrong answer to the right problem. Dumping useable stuff seems a legitimate problem to tackle.

  7. Dave 15 Silver badge

    Time to stop awarding contracts to foriegn companies anyway

    Why does the Scottish, Welsh, Northern Irish and UK (we dont have an English!!!) government continue to hand billions to anyone or everyone who is not based in these islands? Scottish ferries, UK police cars, hell even the Royal Naval support ships are all billions and billions of pounds sent abroad. Passports, NHS, tax and other computer systems all bought from very very very expensive foreign consultancies who often as not are employing very very very very cheap Indian labour and who 99% of the time fail to damned well deliver anyway.

    At least if it was a UK company with UK workers and a UK management team you could actually sling their sorry arses in jail if they breach the contract. In the meantime you would be spending money employing UK workers instead of feathering the nest of some foreign gangsters and paying unemployment here.

    Of course the REAL answer lies in just how many back handers the civil service and ministers are receiving (oh, the award of that NHS contract had nothing to do with the shares my sister and I received.... oh pull the other one, its got bells on it)

    1. hoola Silver badge

      Re: Time to stop awarding contracts to foriegn companies anyway

      Because:

      We have very little left that can compete

      Everyone, Government and business do not look long term

      Public Sector procurement is an utter shambles that more or less ensure that the least suitable tender that costs the most is successful.

      Bonkers procurement rules that prevent UK companies from bidding.

      All of these can be laid squarely at the foot of successive Governments, regardless of party as seemingly well intentioned schemes and endless frameworks are created to "streamline and increase value" for procurement.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022