UK fashion retailers ASOS, Boohoo and George at Asda are being investigated by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) over the eco-friendly and sustainability claims made about their fashion products, according to a statement released by the CMA. The regulator stated that it “concerned about the way the firms’ products are being marketed to customers as eco-friendly.”
According to the CMA, the probe forms part of its broader greenwashing investigation into whether consumers are being misled by the sustainability claims in the marketing of products and services. After the regulator turned the focus of its examination earlier this year towards the fashion sector, it said that it identified concerns about potentially misleading green claims.
Sarah Cardell, interim Chief Executive of the CMA, 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.”
Among the concerns raised by the CMA’s investigation were claims made by companies into the environmental sustainability of their products, such as the use of recycled material, without providing information on the basis of the claims or to which products they refer.
In its probes into ASOS, Boohoo and George at Asda, the CMA will be focusing on issues including whether the language used on collections such as ASOS’ “Responsible Edit,” Boohoo’s “Ready for the Future,” and George at Asda’s “George for Good,” create the impression that they are more environmentally sustainable than the actually are, the criteria used for inclusion in the collections and if the criteria are followed, and the information provided to consumers about the products. The CMA will also look into statements made by the companies about fabric accreditation schemes and standards.
The CMA noted that it has not reached a view as to whether any of the companies breached any consumer protection laws. Cardell said that if the companies are found to be making misleading green claims, “we won’t hesitate to take enforcement action – through the courts if necessary.”
“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.”
Following the CMA announcement, Boohoo and ASOS released statements saying that they will cooperate with the CMA.
“ASOS plc (“ASOS”) notes the announcement earlier today by the CMA, stating that it has opened an investigation into certain fashion retailers, including ASOS, following the publication of the Green Claims Code. 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. ASOS does not propose to comment on the investigation further at this stage.”
“boohoo notes the announcement made this morning by the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) regarding an investigation into a number of fashion retailers, including boohoo, following publication of the Green Claims Code. The Group will continue to work collaboratively with the CMA and is committed to providing its customers with accurate information on the products they buy. boohoo does not intend to comment further on the investigation at this stage.”