This year, $100 billion worth of product is expected to be returned between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, up by $6 billion from last year. Companies are competing to make it easy to send gifts back through policies such as free return shipping, in-store returns, and instant refunds.
But returning product comes at a staggering environmental cost
. There’s an enormous carbon footprint associated with sending products back and forth across the globe. Optoro, a returns logistics provider that works with companies such as Ikea and Jet.com, says that 15 million metric tons of carbon are emitted because of returned merchandise every year.
On top of this, Optoro has found that brands aren’t able to sell most of the returned goods through their website and stores. A mere 10% of products returned this holiday season will be restocked on shelves in an effort to sell them to new customers. The remaining $90 billion worth of product will never make it back to their stores or websites—instead, they may end up in landfills.