Boohoo, Asos and Asda told to revise green claims to avoid greenwashing

All three firms are required to regularly provide reports to the CMA on their compliance with these commitments.

The move comes after the CMA launched an investigation into ASOS, Boohoo and George at Asda to scrutinise their fashion ‘green’ claims in July 2022, prompted by concerns around potential greenwashing in the fashion industry.

Post-investigation, the CMA has secured agreements from the fashion retailers, with a combined annual revenue of more than £4.4bn, committing them to an agreed set of rules around the use of green claims.

The brands have pledged to ensure that their environmental sustainability claims are accurate and not misleading, with key information regarding environmental claims displayed clearly and prominently for shoppers to easily understand.

CMA’s chief executive officer Sarah Cardell said: “Following our action, the millions of people who shop with these well-known businesses can now have confidence in the green claims they see.

“This also marks a turning point for the industry. The commitments set a benchmark for how fashion retailers should be marketing their products, and we expect the sector as a whole – from high street to designer brands – to take note and review their own practices.”

The CMA has also released an open letter to the fashion sector, urging fashion retail businesses to reevaluate their claims and practices to establish a standard for the industry.

New agreements: The small print

The CMA’s agreement with the fashion firms requires statements regarding materials used to be specific and clear, such as ‘organic’ or ‘recycled’. Ambiguous terms like ‘eco’, ‘responsible’, or ‘sustainable’ without further explanation are not permitted. The percentage of recycled or organic fibres is also required to be clearly displayed.

Additionally, the rules prohibit the use of imagery suggesting a product is more environmentally friendly than it actually is, such as ‘natural’ imagery like green leaves, logos, or icons.

The rules mandate that search filters accurately display items meeting specified requirements. For example, if a consumer filters for ‘recycled’ trousers, only trousers predominantly made from recycled materials should be shown.

Moreover, environmental targets claimed by the companies must now be supported by a clear and verifiable strategy, with customers having access to detailed information about the target, including its aims, expected date of achievement and how the company plans to reach the target.

Lastly, statements regarding accreditation schemes and standards must not be misleading. It should be evident whether an accreditation applies to specific products or the company’s broader practices.

All three firms are required to regularly provide reports to the CMA on their compliance with these commitments.

The CMA has also announced plans to enhance its existing Green Claims Code with tailored information specifically for the fashion sector, to assist businesses in complying with regulations.

Related feature for edie members: How can businesses avoid greenwashing without greenhushing?

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