Burberry Burns £28 Million Of Excess Clothing A Year ‘To Stop It Getting In The Wrong Hands’

by : Charlie Cocksedge on : 19 Jul 2018 17:04

More than £90 million of Burberry products have been destroyed over the past five years as the fashion brand suffers a continued downturn in sales.

The label, known for its expensive trench coats and trademarked check design, reportedly destroyed more than £28 million of its own products in the past year alone in order to stop them falling into the ‘grey market’, being bought by the ‘wrong’ people, and to guard against counterfeiting.


According to a report by The Times, Burberry admitted to burning unsold stock with special incinerators and harnessing the energy produced.

Industry insiders suggested luxury brands such as Burberry also destroy their unwanted products rather than sell them on or recycle them in order to protect their intellectual property and ‘brand values’.

As you can probably imagine, people are outraged:


Destroying products has become common in the fashion industry, reports Huffington Post, as retailers also use it to prevent illegal counterfeiting by ensuring the supply chain remains intact.


Burberry has seen the value of its waste rise by 50 per cent in the last two years while sales of the luxury clothing brand have fallen. This has led to unhappy shareholders questioning the brand’s decision, and asking why they weren’t offered the products as private investors.

Other analysts suggest higher prices in China and south-east Asia are causing the excess stock, where the average price of a rucksack is around £1,000.

The destructive practice of getting rid of unwanted products has naturally angered environmentalists, and it’s not only Burberry who do it.


High-street store H&M has admitted to also burning unwanted stock, however the energy produced helps power the Swedish city of Västerås, an industrial city where H&M was founded.

Other brands to burn unwanted stock included Richemont, the company that owns Cartier and Montblanc, who destroyed more than £400 million of watches in two years after buying back unwanted stock from jewellers.

The ‘grey market’ refers to the unofficial distribution of products. Though it is not illegal, the ‘grey market’ trade is an unintended channel by the original manufacturer. Grey market products are often sold to a trader outside the terms of the agreement between the reseller and manufacturer.

According to the charity WRAP, the value of unused clothing in wardrobes has been estimated at around £30 billion, with approximately £140 million worth of clothing going to landfill each year.

Instead of binning old or unwanted clothes, the charity advises people to re-sell, swap and share, donate to charity or recycle old garments.

Although the amounts of clothing being sent to landfill has been falling recently, a quarter of all clothes are still binned rather than recycled.

The Guardian report 1.13 million tonnes of clothes were bought in 2016, causing 26 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from production to disposal, making clothing almost as impactful on the environment as housing and transport.

Steve Creed, director of the WRAP business programme, said:

It’s great that fewer clothes are ending up in the residual waste, but overall our carbon footprint is rising so the next few years are critical in balancing growing demand with supplying clothes more sustainably.

The charity is aiming to raise awareness of sustainable fashion, while recycling – not burning or throwing away – old or unwanted clothes.

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Charlie Cocksedge

Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist and sub-editor at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.

Topics: Fashion


The Times and 3 others
  1. The Times

    Luxury brands including Burberry burn stock worth millions

  2. WRAP


  3. The Guardian

    UK households binned 300,000 tonnes of clothing in 2016

  4. Huffington Post