- Amazon reportedly destroyed 130,000 unsold and returned items in a single week.
- Burberry, Urban Outfitters, H&M, Nike, and Victoria’s Secret have also come under fire for the practice.
- The fashion industry makes up 10% of humanity’s carbon emissions.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Amazon is not the only company that has been reportedly destroying unsold goods.
Amazon came under fire this week after a former employee told ITV, a British news channel, that employees at a warehouse in Scotland were instructed to destroy 130,000 unsold and returned items in just one week – totalling more than a million items per year.
But Amazon is far from the only offender.
Brands including Burberry, Urban Outfitters, H&M, Nike, JCPenney, Michael Kors, Eddie Bauer, and Victoria’s Secret have all been accused of doing the same, according to various reports in recent years.
Burberry came clean about burning clothes and said it “used specialist incinerators that harness energy from the process.” The destroyed goods totaled about $37 million, compared to Burberry’s revenue of $3.8 billion that year.
“Burberry has insisted it’s recycling the clothing into energy, except the energy that is recouped from burning clothing doesn’t come anywhere near the energy that was used to create the garments,” Timo Rissanen, an associate dean at Parsons School of Design and a professor of fashion design and sustainability told Vox in a 2018 interview.
The amount of garments that people have been buying annually has been steadily increasing since the early 2000’s. Insider previously reported that the fashion industry makes up “10% of humanity’s carbon emissions, dries up water sources, and pollutes river streams.”
Chanel and Louis Vuitton have also participated in the burning of merchandise. Richemont, the Swiss company behind brands like Cartier and Montblanc, said in 2018 it had destroyed more than $500 million worth of watches to keep them out of the hands of resellers.
In response to ITV’s reporting, an Amazon spokesperson told Insider that no clothes were sent to landfills, but “as a last resort,” some may be sent to “energy recovery.”
“We’re working hard to drive the number of times this happens down to zero,” Amazon said.