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H&M hits back at new claims it destroys unsold clothes

Swedish apparel retailer H&M insists it only burns stock that breaks its "chemical restrictions," after a group of German investigative reporters alleged it "unnecessarily incinerated around 100,000 pieces of clothing."

The company has come under fire for destroying unsold clothing to the tune of 100,000 pieces – but a spokesperson for the firm told just-style today it has "various ways and means to keep its inventory at a healthy level" and always works to "maximise resources and minimise waste throughout our operations."

The group says it follows waste directives from the EU with "clear routines for handling overstock" including selling through sales in-store or redirecting to markets with greater demand. Additionally, it says it donates to charities and recycling organisatons for re-use.

"H&M only destroys clothing if the product does not comply with our chemical restrictions," just-style was told today (15 October). "H&M has one of the strictest restrictions in the industry and we carry out regular tests, mostly in external laboratories, to ensure we meet these standards. If the tests show that stock is not suitable to be sold, donated or re-used, then it will be sent for incineration in accordance with our global safety routines."

H&M has been battling high inventory levels for the past two years. In its nine-month report the retailer said stock-in-trade amounted to SEK39,719m (US$4.4m), a 15% increase year-on-year, which it admitted was "still high" but "entirely manageable."

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