Recent media coverage has focused attention on the disposal of surplus clothing by Canadian retailers. A number of stories in early January focused on one Toronto retailer that had been singled out for discarding what was allegedly wearable children’s clothing.
While the circumstances are regrettable, this incident has highlighted an opportunity for apparel retailers and brands to refocus on more sustainable disposal methods. There are practical and cost-effective alternatives to throwing away unsaleable or returned clothing that are not only more sustainable, but also provide the opportunity for retailers to help people in need.
As an example, Brands for Canada (formerly Windfall Clothing) is a charitable organization that reprocesses surplus clothing for donation to Canadians living in poverty, through a reliable network of over 100 social service agencies. For more information on Brands for Canada’s procedures, click here.
Media coverage has also highlighted another aspect of this story. As it currently operates, Canada’s duty drawback program tends to discourage the charitable donation of surplus clothing. For companies that import clothing, Canadian importers can seek to have their duties refunded if unsold articles are destroyed or re-exported, but not for goods donated to charities. If retailers and brands were given the same opportunities for donated clothing, they may be more apt to utilize this option. To address this issue, Brands for Canada is asking the Minister of Finance to revise the program to allow duty drawback on donated clothing.
As an advocate for sustainability in the Canadian fashion industry, CAF sits on Brands for Canada’s Board of Directors and supports this initiative. We encourage you to consider this alternative method for disposing of your surplus clothing items.
CAF Members with questions or concerns can contact us for more information.