France Says It Will Ban the Burning of Unsold Luxury Items

As reported by Bloomberg, France has announced a new plan to prevent luxury brands from destroying unsold items in an effort to mitigate the industry’s massive waste problem and sweeping environmental impact. Earlier this week at Copenhagen Fashion Summit French Deputy Ecology Minister Brune Poirson explained, “Too many companies feel OK with just throwing away or destroying the shoes or the clothing that haven’t been sold.”

According to the article, while mass-market brands typically mark down goods until their store shelves are completely empty, higher-end brands have been known to burn unsold products or bury them in landfills all to protect their image. Last year, Burberry inadvertently became the face of the practice after disclosing that the company had destroyed nearly $37 million dollars worth of goods in 2017. The company responded to the issue, saying it would halt on destroying discarded products and “find ways to repair, donate or repurpose materials from unsaleable products.”

At the Danish summit, Francois-Henri Pinault, Chief Executive Officer at Paris-based luxury group Kering, expressed “The fact that this is how we’ve always done it doesn’t mean we should continue.” Pinault also admitted that even if there aren’t solutions for everything yet, the industry should come together and commit to doing their part.

For brands who do not wish to give away or dispose of high-priced items, recycling could still prove difficult since they are made from an array of materials. Still, as Poirson expressed, brands just “can’t do this anymore.” Hopefully more companies and governments will follow suit and work together to find actionable solutions.

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