Following the launch of the Green Claims Code in Autumn 2021 (see our article and listen to our podcast), the CMA is launching its first sector review, which will determine whether fashion businesses in the UK comply with consumer protection law, including the latest guidance on environmental claims on goods and services (see here). The CMA had forewarned that ‘textiles and fashion’ could be amongst the first to be studied.
The CMA has provided some examples of the environmental claims it will investigate, including i) individual items or entire clothing ranges labelled as “sustainable” and ii) where new clothes claim to use “recycled materials”. Where the CMA finds evidence of breaches of consumer law, it may act before the end of the sector review.
The CMA is asking businesses and individuals to share their experience with fashion retailers that have made green claims where they are unsure their green statements and actions match. It has also indicated that it will look at other sectors in due course, such as travel and transport, and fast-moving consumer goods (food and beverages, beauty products and cleaning products).
The above is a reminder that back in September 2021 businesses were put on notice in respect of their obligations under consumer law and the CMA’s plan to carry out a full review of misleading green claims, both on and offline (e.g., claims made in store or on labelling) at the start of 2022. This latest missive from the CMA puts the fashion retail sector at the centre of the CMA’s priorities in terms of potential ‘greenwashing’. Similar action is also taking place in the EU, particularly in the Netherlands where the ACM has already carried out an investigation into misleading sustainability claims in the clothing sector.
Businesses should therefore grasp this opportunity to assess and demonstrate their compliance with the Green Claims Code and guidance. We expect the CMA to be in touch with several businesses asking for information as part of its review.
If you require any support in reviewing your current, or future, green claims or have any questions do not hesitate to get in touch with our experts.