UK’s Antitrust Watchdog To Probe Fashion Industry

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched an official probe into sustainability claims made by the fashion industry amid rising concern the sector is attempting to greenwash shoppers.

The review will investigate environmental claims across the fashion retail sector in the UK to determine whether or not businesses are complying with consumer protection law, identifying businesses which it thinks are ‘greenwashing’ and take appropriate action.

It follows the launch of the body’s ‘Green Claims Code’, which – following industry feedback to sharpen the guide’s focus – poses six questions to stakeholders to ensure they avoid vague or deceitful language surrounding their marketing.

“Our work so far indicates that there could be issues with greenwashing in the fashion sector and that is why we’ve prioritized this area for further investigation,” noted Cecilia Parker Aranha, the authority’s director of consumer protection.

The agency will be focusing on how claims about the environmental impact of products and services are made and whether they are supported by evidence. It will also investigate if these claims influence consumer behavior and if consumers are misled about an absence of information.

The CMA chose the fashion sector because of its significant size, sharing figures that estimate UK consumers spend £54 billion annually on clothing and footwear and that fashion is responsible for between 2 and 8% of global carbon emissions.

CMA Chief Executive Andrea Coscelli 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.

Want more news? Subscribe to CPI’s free daily newsletter for more headlines and updates on antitrust developments around the world.