The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched a probe into sustainability claims from the fashion industry amid ‘greenwashing’ concerns.
Last year, the CMA – a UK government regulatory body – announced it was cracking down on environmental and sustainability claims, warning that businesses had until the new year to ensure their claims complied with the law. In making the announcement, the CMA also released the Green Claims Code: an anti-greenwash guide for all brands making environmental claims.
Following a three-month grace period, fashion is the first sector to be singled out for further investigation and the CMA has warned that brands could face enforcement action if they are found to have breached consumer protection law. The fashion industry is understood to have been prioritised due to the size of the market and the scale of consumer concerns.
The CMA’s investigation will assess whether fashion brands claiming 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.
CMA Director, Cecilia Parker Aranha, said: “Many shoppers are actively looking for brands which are doing good things for the environment. 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“, adding “businesses that can’t back up their claims risk action from the CMA and damage to their reputation in the long-run.”
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 are also able to report any claims they suspect are misleading via the CMA’s website.
The crackdown on ‘greenwashing’ comes following a review by the CMA in 2020 that found up to 40% of environmental claims made by firms online could be misleading consumers. Whilst the fashion sector is being targeted first, other sectors, including beauty, food and drink are also expected to face investigation over their environmental claims.