Amazon warehouse
Photo: © Marcos del Mazo |

FORTUNE reports:

E-commerce may make shopping more convenient, but it has a dark side that most consumers never see.

Say you order an electric toothbrush for Father’s Day and two shirts for yourself from Amazon. You unpack your order and discover that the electric toothbrush won’t charge and only one shirt fits you. So, you decide to return the unwanted shirt and the electric toothbrush.

Returns like this might seem simple, and often they’re free for the consumer. But managing those returns can get costly for retailers, so much so that many returned items are simply thrown out.

In 2022, returns cost retailers about $816 billion in lost sales. That’s nearly as much as the U.S. spent on public schools and almost twice the cost of returns in 2020. The return process, with transportation and packaging, also generated about 24 million metric tons of planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions in 2022…

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