Fashion brands account for quarter of ‘greenwashing’ complaints to UK watchdog

Fashion brands have accounted for 1 in 4 ‘greenwashing’ complaints to the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) since new guidelines were introduced last year, new research finds.

Published in September 2021, The Green Claims Code lays out how businesses can communicate their green credentials in an honest and accurate way without misleading shoppers.

Since its introduction, five out of 21 greenwashing complaints made to the CMA were related to the fashion industry, according to research from international law firm RPC.

Packaging was the only category to be an even bigger culprit than fashion, with six out of the 21 complaints.

Ciara Cullen, a partner in RPC’s retail and consumer group, said in a statement: “Complaints to regulators about ‘greenwashing’ are likely to increase over the coming years in light of increasing regulatory scrutiny of green claims.

“We’re also seeing regulators, such as the CMA and ASA, proactively investigating specific industries – this includes the fashion sector with the CMA recently announcing its plan to ‘name and shame’ the worst greenwashing offenders amongst fast fashion brands.”

Proposals set out by the CMA could see businesses fined as much as 10 percent of global annual turnover for greenwashing if new enforcement powers are introduced.

Cullen continued: “With the CMA being granted additional enforcement powers, this will significantly increase the risk for businesses who get environmental claims wrong. Given the potential scope of penalties, it would be prudent for businesses to ensure that any green claims can be appropriately substantiated at the time they are made.

“With the US-style class actions becoming more prevalent in the UK and Europe, businesses will not only have to contend with greater regulatory scrutiny but could also find themselves having to ultimately pay out significant sums to disgruntled customers.”


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