The decision by high-end retail brand Burberry to no longer send unsold products to energy from waste has been welcomed by the consultancy Eunomia.
One of its consultants, Peter Jones, had highlighted Burberry’s practice of sending the items to energy from waste arguing that the company was not trying to work within the waste hierarchy. There was also criticism of Burberry in some national media and from lobby groups.
Now, while welcoming the Burberry decision which sees it looking for opportunities up the waste hierarchy such as reuse and recycling, Mr Jones has called for wider recognition of the waste hierarchy and better enforcement by the regulators.
Today, Burberry announced it “will stop the practice of destroying unsaleable products, with immediate effect.”Burberry said that this commitment builds on the goals that we set last year “as part of our five-year responsibility agenda and is supported by our new strategy which is helping to tackle the cause of waste. We already reuse, repair, donate or recycle unsaleable products and we will continue to expand these efforts.”
And the company’s chief executive, Marco Gobbetti, commented: “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,” said Marco Gobbetti, chief executive officer.
The company has also reiterated that its responsibility goals cover “the entire footprint of our operations and extend to the communities around us.” Launched in 2017, our agenda to 2022 focuses on three goals: drive positive change through 100% of Burberry’s products, become carbon neutral and revalue waste, and positively impact one million people.
Mr Jones, a principal consultant at Eunomia, told letsrecycle.com that “The striking thing for me was with Burberry that they were actually already trying to reduce their environmental impact and they were strikingly honest in their explanation of how they were disposing of millions pounds worth of goods which couldn’t be sold.”
He continued: “They were forthcoming but this may not be the case with some others producers and retailers who might be operating similar questionable procedures in terms of disposing of unwanted product.”
Mr Jones said that he recognised that the Environment Agency is not resourced to routinely monitor all waste transfer notes. However he advocated that there should be some high level enforcement of the hierarchy rules which would raise awareness.
“With Burberry,” he remarked, “there was an opportunity to remind the industry of the requirements of the waste hierarchy. For example food businesses and cafés in other chains could be more focused on by the Agency over what they do with their food waste. The Agency might achieve more with strategic enforcement.”
Government advice on the Waste Hierarchy is available here.