Handbag maker, Coach, has come under fire after a TikTok video went viral this past weekend, revealing the company’s practice of destroying in-store returns of damaged and unsaleable goods.
The video, which was posted by environmental activist Anna Sacks (@thetrashwalker), received well over 500,000 likes and over 2.4 million views. In the video, Sacks is seen showing Coach products she purchased from influencer Tiffany Sheree, also known as Dumpster Diving Mama, who sells items she finds in the garbage. The products, however, appear to be slashed right through, rendering them unwearable or useable.
Sacks alleges that Coach has a policy to destroy unwanted merchandise to gain tax benefits deliberately.
The video prompted Coach to reverse its policy and put an end to the destruction of unwanted merchandise.
“We have now ceased destroying in-store returns of damaged and unsalable goods and are dedicated to maximizing such product reuse in our Coach (Re)Loved and other circularity programs,” the brand said.
The company clarified that most of its excess inventory is donated and that the damaged products destroyed in stores represent roughly around one percent of its units worldwide. Coach also noted that it does not claim any tax benefits on unsalable returns destroyed in store and that it is in the works of developing and implementing solutions to responsibly repurpose, recycle, and reuse excess or damaged products.
Back in 2018, Burberry faced similar accusations after reports emerged that the luxury fashion house destroyed almost $40 million worth of products. Burberry ultimately put an end to the practice and reinstated its commitment toward more social and environmental responsibility by forgoing the use of real furs from animals such as minks and raccoons.
To further discourage over-production and the destruction of goods, Sacks is in the works of building a coalition focused on introducing federal laws that not only prohibit such acts but also incentivize donation efforts. The group’s first meeting is said to be taking place in a few weeks. “I really want this to be common sense, non-partisan and passable. It shouldn’t be controversial,” said Sacks. “If Coach wants to be part of it, that would be fantastic.”