LONDON – UK regulators have warned businesses they have until the New Year to make sure their green claims comply with the law. Those that don’t risk facing fines and other penalties as part of a clamping down on greenwashing by the authorities – with fashion and textiles a priority sector under the microscope.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) this week published its finalised Green Claims Code, which is focused on six principles which are based on existing consumer law. These are being truthful and accurate, being clear and unambiguous, not omitting or hiding important information, only making fair and meaningful comparisons, considering the full lifecycle of a product and being substantiated.
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Last year, the CMA found that 40 per cent of green claims made online could be misleading following an investigation of websites.
A cursory glance at the websites of the some of the leading fast fashion brands selling into the UK market suggests all are falling foul of several – and in some cases all – of these principles at the present time.
The CMA said it is concerned about people being misled by environmental claims and also wants to ensure that businesses feel confident navigating the law in this area.
The CMA will carry out a full review of misleading green claims, both on and offline at the start of 2022.
It will prioritise which sectors to review in the coming months, which could include industries where consumers appear most concerned about misleading claims – textiles and fashion is a priority sector.
Where there is clear evidence of breaches of consumer law, the CMA said it may also take action before the formal review begins.
Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA, said: “More people than ever are considering the environmental impact of a product before parting with their hard-earned money. We’re concerned that too many businesses are falsely taking credit for being green, while genuinely eco-friendly firms don’t get the recognition they deserve.
“The Green Claims Code has been written for all businesses – from fashion giants and supermarket chains to local shops.
“Any business that fails to comply with the law risks damaging its reputation with customers and could face action from the CMA.”
Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth, Greg Hands, said:
“Millions of UK households are rightly choosing to switch to green products as they look to reduce their carbon footprint. But it’s only right that this commitment is backed up by transparent claims from businesses.
“The competition regulator’s new code will help to ensure this with advice on how best to communicate and understand environmental claims.”