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 First Minister’s Questions (FMQs).
She referred the First Minister to the ITV report featuring undercover film from Amazon’s Dunfermline hub, which claimed that thousands of unsold items – many still in their original wrapping – were dumped or destroyed rather than recycled or given away to charity.
Amazon has denied the claims.
Firing a broadside against Amazon, the way it operates, and its relationship with the Scottish government, Lorna Slater said: “This is not the first time Scottish Greens have challenged the government on the levels of subsidy given to Amazon.
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"As well as avoiding tax and the appalling treatment of workers, we now know this company would rather scrap millions of new items rather than give them to people in need.
“This is a time when public money should be going to small companies and those who need to recover from the pandemic, not to a mega-corporation whose net profits were over $20bn in 2020 alone.
“At the heart of this obscene level of waste is an economy that puts a disposable, throwaway culture above the needs of people and the planet. That’s why we need a recovery that enshrines the circular economy in robust laws that will prevent such needless volumes of waste in the future.”
A Freedom of Information request recently published on the Scottish government’s website revealed that in 2018/19, it spent £2.5m with AWS. In 2020/21, that spending had almost doubled to £4.7m, bringing the total spend between 2018 and 2021 to £7.3m. That is a fraction of what the British government spends with AWS, believed to be £293m in fiscal '20.
No one from the Scottish government was available for comment at the time of writing.
Responding to claims made in the TV report, a spokesperson for Amazon said: “We think it’s important to set the record straight: we do not send items 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.”
No one from Amazon was available to comment on the other points raised by the Scottish Greens. ®