Regulators have launched an official investigation into sustainability claims made by the fashion industry due to growing concern that the sector is trying to greenwash customers.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) suspects that parts of the fashion industry are making misleading claims about the sustainability of their products.
For the last year CMA has investigated whether companies are guilty of “greenwashing” when labeling consumer products as environmentally friendly.
At the end of last year it came out new guide for all companies to follow when making environmental claims, and warned companies that they would intervene if they were not followed.
Fashion is the first specific sector to be named for further research after consumers, academics and business groups expressed concern about brand sustainability claims.
British shoppers spend around £ 54 billion a year on clothes and footwear. As environmental concerns have grown, an increasing number of brands are seeking to attract conscious consumers with sustainability requirements and dedicated “eco” collections.
“We know that many shoppers are actively looking for brands that do good things for the environment – and we want to make sure the claims they see are piled up,” said Cecilia Parker Aranha, CMA’s Director of Consumer Protection.
The study will assess whether fashion brands that claim their products are “sustainable” or “environmentally friendly” have enough evidence to prove that this is the case. It will, too Examine the use of specific claims, such as that clothes are organic or made from recycled materials. Preliminary desk research suggests that greenwashing may occur throughout the industry, I understand.
If brands turn out to mislead consumers, the CMA can force companies to change their practices, and if they refuse, take them to court. Shoppers can report allegations that they suspect are misleading via the CMA’s website.
“Now is the time for the fashion industry to take a fresh look at what they are telling customers and make the necessary changes to comply with the law,” Ms Parker said.
“Companies that are unable to back up their claims risk action by the CMA and damage their reputation in the long run.”