The retailer told MRW that items such as clothing or shoes, which may be faulty and cannot be resold are destroyed in order to stop them from re-entering the UK market as they may pose a safety risk.
However, according to Millets, the percentage of stock that goes through this process is very small, with much of the faulty stock resold at a discounted price.
Millets sells performance clothing designed for outdoor use. It claims if the safety of the item is compromised by a fault, such as a zip that does not work, then the item must be destroyed.
Textile Recycling Association national liaison manager Alan Wheeler said: “If a retailer were to enter into a partnership with a clothing collector which sorts in the UK then it should be possible for the collector to satisfy the retailer’s traceability requirements. The clothing should not be exported wholesale as a job lot, so items collected from retailers in this manner should not find their way back to the UK in bulk. Additionally, many collectors who export their clothing abroad for sorting should also be able to satisfy retailer’s requirements but when this happens there is obviously a third party source involved who is based abroad.”
Millets explained that, in the past, it has tried to sell faulty, unsellable stock on to firms to redistribute in third world countries to stop it from re-entering the UK market but this has not worked. Last year, the firm encouraged customers buying new tents to donate old tents, which were sent across the world to help in disaster areas.
The news has come to light after an incident in New York when a woman found filled sacks of unsold H&M clothing, which had been shredded and dumped to go to landfill.
Speaking about the subject on BBC 4’s You and Yours Programme, chief executive of Blacks Leisure Group- which owns Millets – Neil Gillis said: “The problem is our products are very often performance products, so someone will be relying on these products to keep them dry and warm on a mountain and we can’t afford products that don’t do that to find their way back into the distribution chain.”
“In terms of some of our jackets we’re looking for [a firm] that can actually take those jackets and distribute them into the third world without selling them in the UK where people might actually rely on them in dangerous situations.”
British Retail Consortium press officer Krishan Rama said: “UK retailers try and recycle as much of their clothing as possible but if a safety element is involved then the customer is the most important element.”