Amazon’s Shipping and Returns: A Closer Look

men working in a warehouse


Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, has revolutionized the e-commerce industry with its innovative business model and customer-centric approach. A critical aspect of Amazon’s success lies in its shipping and returns operations. This article provides an in-depth analysis of the expenses associated with Amazon’s shipping and returns, shedding light on the company’s logistics network, the challenges faced by its delivery drivers, and the environmental impact of its practices.

Amazon’s Control over Delivery Operations and Success

Amazon’s logistics network, Amazon Logistics, was born out of necessity. After experiencing late and missed deliveries during the 2013 holiday season, Amazon realized the need to take control of its own delivery operations. This decision has proven to be a game-changer, enabling Amazon to make one-day shipping the norm and significantly contributing to the growth of their Prime membership base.

Amazon’s packages are meticulously organized and labeled, allowing drivers to efficiently sort and deliver them in chronological order. This level of organization is a testament to Amazon’s commitment to customer satisfaction and operational efficiency.

However, despite Amazon’s success and the hiring of over 400,000 people, some owners of Amazon’s delivery service partners (DSPs) had to rely on federal aid, such as the Paycheck Protection Program, to weather the pandemic. This highlights the financial challenges faced by these small business owners amidst the global crisis.

Challenges Faced by Amazon Delivery Drivers

Being an Amazon delivery driver is no easy feat. It is physically demanding and exhausting, with long days and high package volumes. Amazon sets high delivery expectations for drivers, with loads of up to 400 packages per day. This can be demanding and time-consuming, emphasizing the challenges faced by these drivers.

Moreover, a 2019 report revealed that Amazon’s contract drivers have been involved in over 60 serious crashes, with at least ten of them being fatal. This highlights the potential risks associated with their delivery system.

On the other hand, some drivers find the cameras installed in their vans helpful for safety purposes, such as capturing incidents with aggressive dogs or customers. However, the lack of proper disposal of urine-filled containers by some delivery drivers adds to the unhygienic environment within the vans, causing discomfort and potential health risks for both drivers and future occupants.

Environmental Impact of Amazon’s Shipping and Returns Practices

Amazon’s easy returns policy, while customer-friendly, contributes to a staggering amount of landfill waste and carbon dioxide emissions. The environmental impact of returns is significant, with billions of pounds of landfill waste and millions of metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions generated each year.

Customers’ reasons for returning items provide valuable insights into why they didn’t want or couldn’t keep the item, shedding light on potential issues with product quality or customer satisfaction. However, the environmental cost of returns is substantial, contributing to 16 million metric tons of carbon emissions and £5.8 billion of landfill waste each year.


Amazon’s shipping and returns operations are a double-edged sword. On one hand, they contribute to the company’s success by enhancing customer satisfaction and operational efficiency. On the other hand, they pose significant challenges for delivery drivers and have a considerable environmental impact. As Amazon continues to dominate the e-commerce landscape, it is crucial for the company to address these issues and strive for a more sustainable and worker-friendly model.

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