France Seeks to Stop Fashion Brands From Destroying Unsold Goods | News & Analysis

PARIS, France — France is taking aim at the fashion industry’s heavy environmental footprint with a plan to stop companies from destroying unsold items, a government official said.

While mass-market apparel brands often mark down goods until their shelves are cleared, luxury labels have long preferred to burn some unsold items or bury them in landfills rather than risk damage to their image that might come from having them spotted in discount bins.

“Too many companies feel OK with just throwing away or destroying the shoes or the clothing that haven’t been sold,” French Deputy Ecology Minister Brune Poirson said at a conference on fashion and sustainability in Copenhagen. “You can’t do this anymore. It’s shocking.”

Poirson called on brands to tackle the matter at the industry level but said the government would pursue a ban. The pledge comes after Burberry Group Plc said last year that it would end the practice after the disclosure that the UK trenchcoat maker destroyed almost £29 million ($37 million) worth of unsold goods in 2017.

Finding other ways to dispose of $2,500 jackets or $1,000 shoes will be challenging for luxury brands that don’t want to give away unsold items, since the array of materials in them could make recycling difficult.

By Robert Williams; editors: Eric Pfanner, Thomas Pfeiffer.

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