CMA opens greenwashing investigation into Asos, Boohoo and Asda

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has opened an investigation into 'green' claims made by Asos, Boohoo, and George at Asda about their fashion ranges.

The regulator, which first announced it would carry out an investigation last July, said that it would examine whether the statements and language used by the retailers are too vague, in turn creating the impression that clothing collections such as Asos’ ‘Responsible edit’, Boohoo’s ‘Ready for the Future’ range, and Asda’s ‘George for Good’ are more environmentally sustainable than they actually are.

UK consumers spend around £54 billion annually on clothing and footwear, a number which is predicted to grow in the next few years.

The CMA says that some estimates suggest that fashion is responsible for between two and eight per cent of the world's carbon emissions.

"More and more fashion businesses are making environmental claims," said the authority. "This includes claims that individual items of clothing are sustainable or better for the environment, claims about use of recycled materials in new clothing and entire ranges of clothing within stores being branded as ‘sustainable’."

The organisation is concerned that some retailers, including Asos, Boohoo and George at Asda, are misleading customers about the eco-friendliness of their fashion ranges.

It plans to investigate 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 per cent recycled fabric.

According to the CMA, some of the items included in these might not even be meeting the criteria used by the retailers.

The CMA will also look at whether 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, and explore if 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 businesses’ wider practice.

The CMA said that at this stage it has not decided whether any of the businesses have breached consumer protection law.

“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," said an Asda spokesperson. "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.”

Retail Systems has approached Boohoo for a response, with Asos declining to comment.

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