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Asos, Boohoo and Asda face greenwashing investigation

By Jennifer Faull | Deputy Editor

August 1, 2022 | 4 min read

Fashion giants Asos, Boohoo and George at Asda are under investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) over greenwashing claims.

Fashion greenwashing

Fashion brands’ green claims are being scrutinized by the CMA

The CMA said it will scrutinize the three companies having been alerted to the potentially misleading claims they’ve made on how their products were ‘sustainable’ or better for the environment without giving consumers information on the basis of those claims.

The CMA and Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) announced a crackdown on greenwashing last year, rolling out a Green Claims Code that offered guidance to brands on how to communicate their eco-initiatives.

There’s been a spike in the number of brands found guilty of greenwashing in ad campaigns, but these have largely been directed at companies operating in the food and drinks sector, such as Oatly, Innocent and Quorn. Few fast-fashion brands have been put under the spotlight.

The CMA said it will specifically look at whether the statements and language used by Asda, Asos and Boohoo on websites and in marketing have been too broad and vague.

It will also look at the criteria used for the special eco-friendly collections that these groups have created – such as the George for Good or Asos’s Future Ready ranges – and the level of detail provided to shoppers about the products they include.

Sarah Cardell, interim chief executive of the CMA, said should it find these companies are using misleading eco claims, it “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.”

An Asda spokesperson said it ensures the statements made to promote its George for Good range can be supported by industry accreditations and that it was “ready and willing to answer any questions” the CMA has.

Charlotte Cassells, a commercial and IP solicitor at law firm Shakespeare Martineau, said the steps taken by the CMA against these brands will likely harm their reputations.

“Making false misleading claims in advertising is a serious matter and results in negative publicity for the businesses involved, as well as reputational damage and having difficulties engaging consumers with future advertising campaigns,” she said.

“Consumers are becoming more and more aware of their social responsibility toward saving the environment and putting trust in companies claiming their goods are ‘green’, ‘carbon neutral’ and ‘eco-friendly.’ Advertising, particularly on social media, has a direct impact on how we all behave and make choices about purchasing ‘green’ products.”

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