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Competition and Markets Authority to investigate UK fashion greenwashing claims

Camilla Rydzek
17 January 2022

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has started a review of environmental claims in the UK fashion retail sector, as more business are making claims about the use of "recycled materials" and being more "sustainable".

The review will examine environmental claims across the fashion retail sector in the UK to determine whether or not businesses are complying with consumer protection law, identifying businesses which it thinks are ‘greenwashing’ and take appropriate action.

In particular the agency is focusing on how claims about the environmental impact of products and services are made and whether they are supported by evidence. It will also investigate if these claims influences consumer behaviour and if consumers are mislead about an absence of information.

The CMA chose the fashion sector because of its significant size, sharing figures that estimate UK consumers spend £54 billion annually on clothing and footwear and that fashion is responsible for between 2 and 8% of global carbon emissions.

Andrea Coscelli, Chief Executive of the CMA, said: “More people than ever are considering the environmental impact of a product before parting with their hard-earned money. We’re concerned that too many businesses are falsely taking credit for being green, while genuinely eco-friendly firms don’t get the recognition they deserve.

The Green Claims Code has been written for all businesses – from fashion giants and supermarket chains to local shops. Any business that fails to comply with the law risks damaging its reputation with customers and could face action from the CMA.”

Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth, Greg Hands, added: “Millions of UK households are rightly choosing to switch to green products as they look to reduce their carbon footprint. But it’s only right that this commitment is backed up by transparent claims from businesses.

“The competition regulator’s new code will help to ensure this with advice on how best to communicate and understand environmental claims."

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