A Member of the Scottish Parliament has called for the government to cancel its contracts with Amazon, following reports of the company dumping thousands of unsold items.
Among the contracts highlighted by Green MSP Lorna Slater is a £4.7 million ($6.5m) a year deal with Amazon Web Services, the company's cloud division.
AWS also has a £15m ($20.8m) deal with NHS Scotland (along with £9m for track and trace), a £23.8m ($33m) deal with the UK Ministry of Justice, and a huge £100m ($139m) deal with the UK Home Office, among others.
Her comments follow a report by ITV that found that 124,000 items were being destroyed each week at a single Amazon warehouse in Dunfermline.
The products - including headphones, hard drives, books, smart TVs, and face masks - were all perfectly usable, but were sent to landfills as they had not sold fast enough.
Many likely came from third-party sellers that pay Amazon to house their products in the company's warehouses. At some point, it becomes more expensive to keep paying Amazon than to get rid of the brand-new equipment. For its trouble, Amazon will make money on leasing the warehouse space, but not face the cost of the lost product.
Amazon denied the report, which used undercover footage, drones, and tracked trucks to landfills and waste disposal plants.
“This is not the first time Scottish Greens have challenged the government on the levels of subsidy given to Amazon," Greens co-leader Lorna Slater said during First Minister Question time - where MSPs can put questions to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
"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 $20 billion in 2020 alone.”
Sturgeon responded that Amazon's actions "raises questions," and said she would have to investigate how much the government gives Amazon in contracts.
“I do think governments have to do more to persuade companies to cut down on waste and to become much more responsible, environmentally, but I don’t think any company the size and scale of Amazon should need a government to tell it that it shouldn’t be destroying large amounts of things that could be given to people in need," she said.
“So I hope Amazon will reflect on that. There’s a big challenge for governments across the world on resolving waste, and I hope Scotland will lead by example.”