British luxury goods maker Burberry on Thursday announced that it will stop the practice of burning unsold goods, with immediate effect.
The fashion label also said it would stop using real fur in its products and would phase out existing fur items.
Burberry’s annual report stated that it destroyed unsold 28.6 million pounds ($37.1 million) worth of products last year to protect its brand, taking the value of items destroyed over the past five years to 105 million pounds, the Guardian reported.
It previously defended its practice by saying that the energy generated from burning its goods was captured. But now Burberry will cease burning millions of dollars’ worth of excess stock and is likely to donate garments to charities such as Smart Works, a UK organization that provides interview clothes to unemployed women to help them get jobs.
The company said it will reuse, repair, donate or recycle all unsaleable products.
Burberry is the first major company to publicly end the practice of destroying unwanted products. Its Chief Executive Marco Gobbetti said he hoped others in the industry would follow suit.
“Modern luxury means being socially and environmentally responsible. This belief is core to us at Burberry and key to our long-term success. We are committed to applying the same creativity to all parts of Burberry as we do to our products,” he said.
Greenpeace welcomed the move as a “much-needed sign of a change of mind in the fashion industry”.
“Because fashion is a high-volume business with more than 100 billion garments produced each year, consumers’ closets are already overflowing with unworn clothes — creating an overstock problem for many companies,” the environmental campaigning group was cited as saying by the BBC.
“It’s high time for the whole fashion industry to start dealing with overstock at its source: by slowing down production and re-thinking the way it does business.”
The label said the debut collection from its new Chief Creative Officer Riccardo Tisci to be presented on September 17 during London fashion week, will not feature any real fur designs. Existing fur products will be phased out. The brand till now used rabbit, fox, mink and Asiatic racoon fur in its collections.
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) foundation welcomed Burberry’s decision.
Burberry started a partnership with sustainable luxury company Elvis & Kresse in the past year that will see 120 tonnes of leather off-cuts transformed into new products over the next five years.
At the same time, the fashion label also established the Burberry Material Futures Research Group with the Royal College of Art to invent new sustainable materials.