Product destruction refers to when companies get rid of products that are fully functional, often fresh from the factory. Researchers have now investigated why this happens and what can be done about it.

The research results are recently published in an article by Lund University based Professor Oksana Mont, among others. They have looked into the consumption category of textiles and electronics, where it is estimated that almost €22 billion worth of products will be destroyed in 2022. That is more than Cyprus’ GDP was in 2020.

For instance, the study indicates that a large proportion of goods are never sold, and that customers often choose to return their purchases. When profit margins and economic incentives speak against extending product-lives, it becomes logical to destroy them instead.

Mix of policy interventions
For this very unsustainable and resource-wasting behavior to stop, the study proposes a mix of policy interventions aimed at both manufacturers, retailers, consumers, and second-hand actors. In addition, the article concludes that it is necessary for production volumes and the number of unsold products to decrease if the product destruction problem is to be fundamentally solved.

Isabel Nilsson Alarcon

Oksana Mont, Professor in sustainable consumption governance, The International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics at Lund University, Lund
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