Regulators who will investigate the fashion industry with allegations of green laundry

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Regulators who will investigate the fashion industry with allegations of green laundry

For the last year the CMA has been investigating whether companies are guilty of “greenwashing” when labelling consumer products as eco-friendly.

Fashion is the first specific sector to be singled out for further investigation after consumers, academics and business groups expressed concern about sustainability claims being made by brands.

“We know that many shoppers are actively looking for brands which are doing good things for the environment – and we want to make sure the claims they see are stacking up,” said Cecilia Parker Aranha, the CMA’s director of consumer protection.

UK shoppers spend around £54bn every year on clothing and footwear. As concerns about the environment have grown, growing numbers of brands are seeking to attract conscious consumers with sustainability claims and dedicated “eco” collections.

Story Highlights

  • The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) suspects parts of the fashion industry are making misleading claims about the sustainability of their products.

  • Late last year it published new guidance for all firms to follow when making environmental claims and warned firms it would take action if it was not followed.

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The probe will assess whether fashion brands which claim their products are “sustainable” or “eco-friendly” have enough evidence to prove that is the case. It will also examine the use of specific claims, such as that clothes are organic or made from recycled materials. Initial desk research suggests greenwashing could be occurring across the industry, i understands.

If brands are found to be misleading consumers the CMA can force companies to change their practices, and if they refuse, take them to court. Shoppers can report claims they suspect are misleading via the CMA’s website. “Now is the time for the fashion industry to take a fresh look at what they’re telling customers and make any changes needed to comply with the law,” Ms Parker said.

“Businesses that can’t back up their claims risk action from the CMA and damage to their reputation in the long-run.”