Regulators to investigate fashion sector on suspicion of greenwashing

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority is set to investigate the prevalence and impact of greenwashing in the fashion sector
Greenwashing is a communication technique aimed at building a false image of a company in terms of environmental impact
// The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority is set to investigate the prevalence and impact of greenwashing in the fashion sector
// The agency is focusing on how claims about the environmental impact of products and services are made 

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA has launched an official probe into sustainability claims made by the fashion industry amid rising concern the sector is attempting to greenwash shoppers.

The review will investigate environmental claims across the fashion retail sector in the UK to determine whether or not businesses are complying with consumer protection law, identifying businesses which it thinks are ‘greenwashing’ and take appropriate action.

It follows the launch of the body’s ‘Green Claims Code’, which – following industry feedback to sharpen the guide’s focus – poses six questions to stakeholders to ensure they avoid vague or deceitful language surrounding their marketing.


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“Our work so far indicates that there could be issues with greenwashing in the fashion sector and that is why we’ve prioritised this area for further investigation,” noted Cecilia Parker Aranha, the authority’s director of consumer protection.

The agency will be focusing on how claims about the environmental impact of products and services are made and whether they are supported by evidenceIt will also investigate if these claims influences consumer behaviour and if consumers are mislead about an absence of information.

The CMA chose the fashion sector because of its significant size, sharing figures that estimate UK consumers spend £54 billion annually on clothing and footwear and that fashion is responsible for between 2 and 8% of global carbon emissions.

CMA Chief Executive Andrea Coscelli said: “More people than ever are considering the environmental impact of a product before parting with their hard-earned money. We’re concerned that too many businesses are falsely taking credit for being green, while genuinely eco-friendly firms don’t get the recognition they deserve.

“The Green Claims Code has been written for all businesses – from fashion giants and supermarket chains to local shops. Any business that fails to comply with the law risks damaging its reputation with customers and could face action from the CMA.”

Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth, Greg Hands, added: “Millions of UK households are rightly choosing to switch to green products as they look to reduce their carbon footprint. But it’s only right that this commitment is backed up by transparent claims from businesses.

“The competition regulator’s new code will help to ensure this with advice on how best to communicate and understand environmental claims.”

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