Mar 14, 2022
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CMA nearly ready to name and shame fashion's greenwashing offenders

Mar 14, 2022

Retailers need to be careful as the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is preparing to name and shame high street clothing retailers that make sweeping eco-friendly claims.

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The government body is investigating misleading claims by Britain’s fashion sector and will shortly publish a list of the worst offenders. If offenders do not make changes to their advertising, they could be taken to court. 

It hopes the move will help boost faith in genuine sustainable products and those retailers that sell them, The Guardian reported.

According to the CMA, consumers are being duped into paying a premium for fashion products that make grand claims about their environmental credentials but have no evidence to back them up.

Entire lines of clothing are being labelled ‘sustainable’ and ‘eco-friendly’, without firms having proof that the whole process – from manufacture to delivery, packaging and sale – is good for the environment, according to the CMA.

Claims being investigated by the CMA include unfair comparisons that individual items of clothing are ‘better for the environment’ without qualifying how; claims about the use of recycled materials in new clothing; and entire ranges of clothing within stores being branded as ‘sustainable’.

Although consumers are trying to do the right thing by buying sustainable products they are being duped by sweeping claims, “resulting in a loss of trust which could stop the UK reaching its climate commitments,” according to the CMA.

Cecilia Parker Aranha, its director of consumer protection, said: “According to our research, something like 60% of people had said they were either likely to or fairly likely to be willing to pay more for products, and I think it was up to about 9% more [money] for products that were environmentally friendly.”

“We have taken the view that the growing consumer demand for green products and their willingness to pay for those green products has increased the incentive for businesses to be seen to be green, whether or not they actually are green.”

Parker Aranha added: “I was really sceptical about anybody that’s making a sweeping claim that a product is ‘eco’ or ‘sustainable’ because the business would be having to really show that every element of the product from production through to disposal will be good for the environment, not harmful to the environment. The other thing I would watch is if they say they’re ‘made with recycled fibres’. They are often only made with 16% to 20% recycled fibres.”

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