June 13, 2021

“Special Envoy”, on France 2, follows the trail of the juicy business of ignorance


Twenty-seven items ordered on the Internet and delivered to your home, in the end keeping only nine … For Arlette, the practice of “product returns” is very convenient in times of health crisis. This mother of a family hardly asks herself any questions about the fate of the products she returned to the sender. And which will travel, by truck or plane, thousands of kilometers, be reconditioned to be put back on sale… or not.

The “try first, pay after” option is a strong selling point for e-commerce companies, Zalando, La Redoute, Amazon and others, which have seen their sales explode in this year of repeated confinement ( + 38% in one year). But what becomes of the 17 million products thus returned per year, asks “Special Envoy” in Dearest parcels!

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To answer, sometimes with humor, without making anyone feel guilty, the journalists hid GPS trackers in the packages. In the pocket of a coat bought on Zalando which will cover 1,600 km to its new buyer in Antwerp. In a toolkit acquired from Amazon, which will travel 3,000 km from customer to customer. In the box of a cordless vacuum cleaner, which will travel “only” 600 km, to a destination without return …

Understanding the commercial logic of this costly logistics – and little respectful of ecological issues – is the challenge for Elise Lucet’s special envoys, meeting the managers of mega-platforms, their employees, trade unionists, road. Alexis Normand, CEO and co-founder of the French start-up Greenly, which assesses the environmental footprint of products, clears the consumer, who is not in a position to“Align [son] behavior and [ses] values ​​”. Behaving more responsibly means being better informed, but when you make a “product return”, you don’t know if your package “Goes 50 km or 3,000 km”, he explains kindly.

Most poached mammal in the world

Ignorance is also singled out in The Curse of the Pangolin, second investigation of the evening, on the trail of the planetary traffic of this tasty little animal with scales – unfortunately: it is the most poached mammal in the world!

” Here [au Congo], there is ignorance, at the other end, avarice… Between the two, the traffic ”, sums up, fatalistic, Adams Cassinga, 38, who devotes his life to the fight against poachers. Starting point: Mbandaka, on the banks of the Congo River, where poaching is the only source of income for young fathers. They resell their catch between 1.30 euros and 1.70 euros each to a “mama” – who will resell them ten minutes later ten times the price! The animal will be found in a “chic” restaurant in Kinshasa, in a stew or in a papillote, at 170 euros.

Read also: On the trail of the “pangolin connection”

Small fry compared to the rest. In Africa, some traffickers know that in Asia pangolin scales are bought at a high price for alleged medicinal properties. The animal was even, at the start of the pandemic, blamed for the dissemination of the coronavirus on a market in Wuhan, before being exonerated.

Another circuit, illegal, then unfolds before our eyes, from a marabout concealer to the “pharmacy of longevity” of Vine, 300 km from Hanoi, Vietnam. The visit to a Vietnamese sanctuary for pangolins seems ridiculous in the face of the trafficking of scales, which does not care about official decisions to remove the said scales from the Chinese pharmacopoeia.

Dearest parcels! and The Curse of the Pangolin, two surveys proposed within the framework of the magazine “Special Envoy”, presented by Elise Lucet. Available in replay on Franceinfo.