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BERLIN – Zalando, the German fashion retailer, has won the inaugural greenwashing award of the Norwegian Consumer Council for 2022. The jury on the council justified the award partly because the Zalando uses a filter on its website based on the Higg MSI index of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition. The Norwegian authorities have recently deemed Higg labels to be greenwashing and Zalando has said it will now remove the filter.

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“By marketing clothing under the banner ‘sustainability’, Zalando gives the impression that we can buy our way out of environmental challenges. There must be strict requirements for the use of the word ‘sustainable’ for a product category with a high environmental impact and documented challenges with, for example, social conditions,” the jury wrote.

Gunstein Instefjord, jury member and head of consumer policy at the Consumer Council, said Zalando’s misleading filter extensive use of the term “sustainability” obscures the environmental challenge caused by clothing consumption.

“Far too much clothing is bought and produced, and clothing production accounts for a considerable amount of the world’s total climate emissions. When you as a consumer want to buy the most sustainable sweater on Zalando, it is a paradox that the more sustainability goals you choose to filter on, the more products appear as alternatives. It obviously should have been the other way around,” said Instefjord.

The Norwegain Consumer Council has said it will report all businesses on the greenwashing nomination list to the Consumer Authority for misleading marketing.

“In the opinion of the Consumer Council, all the nominees represent some form of marketing practice that misleads consumers. Therefore, we all complain to the Consumer Authority, which protects consumers’ interests by preventing and stopping what they consider illegal marketing,” Gunstein Instefjord.

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