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5 bn tonnes trash from US online product returns annually

Jan '20
Pic: Shutterstock
Pic: Shutterstock
Returns of products purchased online generate five billion tonnes of trash and 15 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, and while consumer behaviour can contribute to this, the majority of online shoppers say it is the retailers’ responsibility to address the environmental damage caused by returns, according to a new online survey of US adults.

The survey was conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Threekit, the product visualisation software platform. Threekit helps companies create and manage product visuals.

The survey of over 1,900 adults who shop online found 82 per cent of US online shoppers agree that online retailers have a responsibility to do all they can to reduce purchase returns due to the negative impact processing a return has on the environment.

Seventy six per cent of online US shoppers say they would return or exchange online purchases less often if online retailers provided more accurate product images and details, according to a press release from the company.

In response to the findings and to mounting environmental costs of e-commerce, Threekit recently announces the launch of ‘Visuals Make a Difference’, a commitment to help online retailers achieve sustainability.

The initiative includes free visual assessments for companies that want to improve their product experience and keep items purchased from being sent back, as well as education for retailers on how to prevent returns.

Through these efforts, Threekit hopes to reduce total US product returns by 2 per cent and carbon dioxide emissions by 2 per cent in 2020, and plans to track this progress throughout the year.

With Amazon accounting for 49 per cent of all e-commerce purchases in the United States, Threekit says the company can be influential in driving the trend of better imagery standards. Threekit has urged Amazon to join them in the ‘Visuals Make a Difference’ effort.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (DS)

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