Fashion brands that make misleading claims about their environmental credentials face a crackdown from the competition watchdog as it targets greenwashing.
Brands could be forced to change the way they advertise or face legal action if they are found to have broken consumer protection law with false environmental claims.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) reportedly prioritized fashion because of the size of the market and the scale of consumer concerns. Other sectors including transport, food and beverage, and beauty should also be investigated for their environmental claims.
Cecilia Parker Aranha, CMA’s director of consumer protection, said: People are increasingly aware of the negative impact fashion can have on our planet. 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 piling up.
Our work so far indicates that there may be greenwashing issues in the fashion sector and therefore we have prioritized this area for further investigation.
Now is the time for the fashion industry to review what it says to customers and make the necessary changes to comply with the law. Companies that cannot substantiate their claims risk legal action from the MAC and long-term reputational damage.
The survey comes as the fashion industry faces increasing pressure to reduce its environmental impact, as some estimates say it is responsible for 2-8% of global carbon emissions.
He believes global industry contributes more to the climate emergency than the aviation and maritime industries combined and, if trends continue, it could account for a quarter of the global carbon budget by 2050. The growing volume of returns from Online shopping has also fueled activists’ concern.
Lobby group Changing Markets Foundation published a report last year on the use of synthetic fibers by 46 major brands. He said 60% of claims by British and European fashion companies, including Asos, H&M and Zara, were unsubstantiated and misleading buyers.
The report particularly criticized the use of polyester made from recycled plastic bottles which it said was a false solution and said brands were not doing enough to ensure their garments were recyclable.
Urska Trunk, Campaign Manager at Changing Markets, said: “While brands are rapidly capitalizing on consumer concerns using sustainability as a marketing ploy, the vast majority of these claims are all style and not substance. As they green their clothing collections, they simultaneously drag their feet on embracing truly circular solutions, such as not making the necessary investments to ensure a future in which clothes can be recycled into clothing.
She chose H&M’s ethical Conscious Collection for using more synthetics than her main collection, with one in five items analyzed found to be made from synthetics 100% derived from fossil fuels .
H&M said it bases its product sustainability claims on credible third-party certification systems for our materials to ensure sustainable sourcing and integrity, such as the Global Recycled Standard.
The Swedish fast-fashion retailer said polyester accounts for 27% of its material use, but agreed that recycled polyester from single-use plastic bottles should not be the long-term solution for the industry .
He said that as he invested in recycling, textile-to-textile recycling solutions were needed, hence his investment in recycling technologies, such as Worn Again, TreeToTextile and Renewcell.
CMA started looking at green claims in 2020, find that up to 40% could be misleading to consumers. It gave companies making misleading claims about their environmental credentials until the end of last year to end the practice, known as greenwashing.
The Advertising Standards Authority has cracked down on several big companies in recent years for greenwashing adverts, including airline Ryanair, carmaker BMW and oil producer Shell.
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