Green groups call for ‘Amazon law’ after retailer accused of binning food

Environmental groups have written to the prime minister calling for a new anti-waste, or “Amazon law”, after the online retailer was forced to deny new allegations that it destroys edible food as well as household goods.

New footage obtained by ITV appears to show boxes of groceries including crisps, tinned food and soft drinks being earmarked as waste inside Amazon's Dunfermline warehouse.

Amazon was already under pressure after undercover filming from inside the same warehouse showed TVs, laptops, drones, hairdryers, computer drives, books and thousands of sealed face masks – all sorted into boxes marked “destroy”.

ENDS revealed this month that the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) had met with Amazon in order to establish whether the online retailer was breaching waste rules.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson said that Amazon was “absolutely insane” for destroying products.

Responding to the latest accusations, Amazon said to “suggest we throw away perfectly good food or drink is wrong”. 

A spokesperson told the Guardian: “If we can donate it, we donate it. As our customers would expect, we do not donate food that poses a safety risk. That includes items past their use-by date, that could have been damaged, or that have been returned and we can no longer guarantee their safety or quality.”

The company added that it had supported 23 food banks and charities in the UK and so far this year had donated 2.9 million food and drink products.

Amazon also said it did not send any items to landfill in the UK. “Our priority is to resell, donate or recycle any unsold products. We recognise that confusion may have stemmed from our use of the word “destroy”. 

In an interview with ITV News, the environment secretary George Eustice called Amazon’s waste “extraordinary.” He said the government was looking at changes to regulations “to strengthen the regime we have for electronic goods and recycling as well”.

In a letter signed by representatives of six of the UK’s biggest environmental charities including Greenpeace, the Environmental Investigation Agency, Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and Surfers Against Sewage, the groups called on the government to introduce an “Amazon law” on what companies can and cannot do with unsold or returned products.