Green claims made by ASOS, Boohoo and Asda to be investigated
The watchdog is to look into what each company says about their fashion products including clothing, footwear and accessories.
The move comes as part of its ongoing investigation into potential greenwashing and follows concerns around the way retailers products are being marketed to customers as eco-friendly.
Concerns into the fashion sector include businesses that are creating the impression that their products are ‘sustainable’ or better for the environment by making broad claims about the use of recycled materials in new clothing with little to no information about the basis for those claims.
The investigation into Asos, Boohoo and George at Asda centres around whether the language used is too broad and vague and suggest that collections are more sustainable than they actually are.
The CMA highlights Asos’ ‘Responsible Edit’, Boohoo’s ‘Ready for the Future’ range and ‘George for Good.
It will also look into whether the criteria used by some of these businesses to decide which products to include in sustainable collections may be lower than customers might reasonably expect. For example, some products may contain as little as 20% recycled fabric.
The investigation will look at whether there is a lack of information provided to customers about products included in any of the companies’ eco ranges, such as missing information about what the fabric is made from.
It will explore if statements made by the companies about fabric accreditation schemes and standards are potentially misleading.
The CMA will now obtain evidence from Asos, Boohoo and Asda and said that possible outcomes of the investigation include forcing the companies to change the way they operate and even taking them to court.
The CMA published its Green Claims Code in September 2021, which aims to help businesses understand how to communicate their green credentials, while avoiding the risk of misleading shoppers.
The CMA interim chief executive Sarah Cardell said: “People who want to ‘buy green’ should be able to do so confident that they aren’t being misled.
“Eco-friendly and sustainable products can play a role in tackling climate change, but only if they are genuine.
“We’ll be scrutinising green claims from Asos, Boohoo and George at Asda to see if they stack up. Should we find these companies are using misleading eco claims, we won’t hesitate to take enforcement action – through the courts if necessary.”
A Boohoo statement said: Boohoo notes the announcement made this morning by the Competition and Markets Authority regarding an investigation into a number of fashion retailers, including boohoo, following publication of the Green Claims Code.
While Asos said: “Asos will co-operate with the investigation and is committed to playing its part in making fashion more sustainable, including providing clear and accurate information about its products.”
The trio’s claims are part of a wider investigation into fashion greenwashing, where the CMA will consider whether to put more retailers under the microscope.
Cardell struck a warning for all in the fashion sector.
“This is just the start of our work in this sector and all fashion companies should take note: look at your own practices and make sure they are in line with the law,” she said.
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