Burberry to Finally Stop Burning Unsold Products

Connector Fall 2018

Luxury fashion brand Burberry has announced it will stop destroying products deemed unsaleable with immediate effect, just months after it was revealed that the brand had burned more than £28m worth of stock over the past 12 months.

Burberry’s annual update, published in July 2018, revealed the extent of the cost of “finished goods physically destroyed during the year”. It served to highlight a notable and systemic issue plaguing the fashion industry that has also been reportedly linked to industry giants such as H&M and Nike.

The company claimed that the process was “necessary”, but that it would continue to seek ways to “reduce and revalue” its waste streams. It has also defended the practice, noting that the energy from burning products was captured and used.

The company has now committed to stopping the practice in order to build on resource efficiency goals listed under its five-year corporate responsibility agenda.

The practice of burning stock is reportedly common in the luxury fashion industry. Counterfeiting is a huge risk to fashion companies and is reportedly worth $450bn, all while exacerbating exploitation and modern slavery.

Burberry hopes the decision will build on a headline CSR goal to “revalue waste”. While no reduction targets for the amount of waste generated, disposed of, or sent to landfill are in place, the luxury fashion brand has committed to a range of closed-loop initiatives.

The company is a core partner of the Make Fashion Circular initiative from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a project to create business models which will keep garments in use, utilise materials which are renewable and find ways of recycling old clothes into new products. Nike and H&M are also signed up to the initiative.

Another key pillar for the company’s 2022 goals is to ensure that 100% of Burberry products have at least one “positive attribute”. The attributes can range from using cotton sourced through the Better Cotton Initiative, leather from certified tanneries, or ensuring the person who made the garment is paid a living wage. To date, 14% of Burberry products have more than one positive attribute while 28% have one.

Source: Climate Action Programme and edie.net