Sustainability transparency in professional clothing essential following investigation into ASOS, Boohoo, ASDA

CMA Investigation
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The professional clothing industry must ensure transparent communication of its product’s sustainability credentials following today’s reporting of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) investigation scrutinising eco-friendly claims by ASOS, Boohoo and George at Asda on its fashion products.

When manufacturing uniforms, workwear, and PPE, the products are required to be durable, functional and to perform.

To achieve this, virgin resources are blended with the recycled content to maintain the strength and performance; it is crucially important that this is communicated to avoid misleading customers, who otherwise may assume the product is made from 100% recycled material.

The investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA)

The CMA is investigating whether ASOS, Boohoo and Asda are marketing green claims that are misleading to consumers, whilst conducting a wider investigation into the fashion sector to consider putting more companies under the microscope.

In January 2022, the CMA initially reviewed sustainability claims by the fashion sector and found potentially misleading communications. These included several companies creating the impression that their products were ‘sustainable’ or better for the environment – for example by making broad claims about the use of recycled materials in new clothing – with little to no information about the basis for those claims or exactly which products they related to.

The CMA is considering whether the statements and language used by the businesses are too broad and vague and may create the impression that clothing collections – such as the ‘Responsible edit’ from ASOS, Boohoo’s current ‘Ready for the Future’ range, and ‘George for Good’ – are more environmentally sustainable than they actually are.

Today’s reports highlight that the criteria used by some of these businesses to decide which products to include in these collections may be lower than customers might reasonably expect from their descriptions and overall presentation – for example, some products may contain as little as 20% recycled fabric.

Some items have been included in these collections when they do not meet the criteria and there is a lack of information provided to customers about products included in any of the companies’ eco ranges, such as missing information about what the fabric is made from.

Any statements made by the companies about fabric accreditation schemes and standards are potentially misleading, such as a lack of clarity as to whether the accreditation applies to particular products or to the firm’s wider practices.

Sarah Cardell, interim Chief Executive of the CMA, said: “People who want to ‘buy green’ should be able to do so confident that they aren’t being misled. Eco-friendly and sustainable products can play a role in tackling climate change, but only if they are genuine.

“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.

“This is just the start of our work in this sector and all fashion companies should take note: look at your own practices and make sure they are in line with the law.”

The CMA has written to the 3 firms outlining its concerns and will use its information-gathering powers to obtain evidence to progress its investigation. How the review develops will depend on the CMA’s assessment of the evidence before it. Possible outcomes include securing undertakings from the companies to change the way they operate, taking the firms to court, or closing the case without further action.

The move comes after the CMA published its Green Claims Code in September 2021. The code aims to help businesses understand how to communicate their green credentials while avoiding the risk of misleading shoppers.

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

This article is republished from Forbes under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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