CMA to probe fashion retailers over recycled content claims

The Competition and Markets Authority announced last week (29 July) it will be “scrutinising eco-friendly and sustainability claims” made by a string of fashion retailers.

The CMA launched the investigation over sustainability claims regarding content (picture: Shutterstock)

This includes statements made by ASOS, Boohoo, and George at Asda about recycled content in clothing, which the regulator said had “little to no information” about the basis of these claims.

The move is said to be a part of the authority’s ongoing investigation into potential greenwashing, which looks into how products and services claiming to be green are being marketed.

The CMA said it turned its focus to the fashion sector, where an estimated £54 billion is spent by consumers annually, in January this year. The initial review reportedly identified concerns around potentially misleading green claims.

Investigation

The investigation into ASOS, Boohoo and George is assessing whether the statements and language used by the businesses are “too vague and may create the impression they are more environmentally sustainable than the reality”. These include ASOS’ ‘Responsible Edit’, Boohoo’s ‘Ready for the Future’ range and ‘George for Good’.

Additionally, the CMA is set to look at the criteria used by some of these businesses to include products in these collections, with some containing as little as 20% recycled fabric or not meeting the criteria at all. The authority also pointed to the fact there is “little transparency” regarding the origin of the fabric used and any statements about the fabric accreditation schemes and standards are “potentially misleading”.

Sarah Cardell, the CMA’s interim chief executive, said: “We’ll be scrutinising green claims from ASOS, Boohoo and George at Asda to see if they stack up. Should we find these companies are using misleading eco claims, we won’t hesitate to take enforcement action – through the courts if necessary.”

Ms Cardell added that this is just the start of the regulator’s work in the fashion sectors and other fashion companies should make sure their practices are in line with the law.

Retailers

The retailers all issued a statement confirming they will collaborate with the CMA’s investigation.

A spokesperson for ASOS said: “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 Green Claims Code. ASOS will cooperate 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.”

A spokesperson for Boohoo said: “Boohoo notes the announcement made this morning by the Competition and Markets Authority regarding an investigation into a number of fashion retailers, including Boohoo, following publication of the Green Claims Code. Boohoo 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.”

A spokesperson for Asda said: “We know how important it is that our customers can trust the claims we make about our products, which is why we ensure the statements we make can be supported by industry accreditations.

“We are ready and willing to answer any questions the CMA have about our George for Good range and welcome further work by the CMA to ensure the sustainability claims made by the fashion industry as a whole are robust and clear.”

The CMA concluded that a wider investigation into misleading environmental claims is ongoing and other sectors will come under review in due course.

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