ASOS, Boohoo and Asda: greenwashing investigation

The CMA has opened an investigation into 3 fashion brands to scrutinise their ‘green’ claims.

Launch of investigation

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The CMA is concerned about the way the firms’ products are being marketed to customers as eco-friendly.

The investigation will scrutinise environmental claims made by ASOS, Boohoo and George at Asda about their fashion products, including clothing, footwear, and accessories. Several issues will be examined, including whether:

  • the statements and language used by the businesses are too broad and vague, and may create the impression that clothing collections – such as the ‘Responsible edit’ from ASOS, Boohoo’s current ‘Ready for the Future’ range, and ‘George for Good’ – are more environmentally sustainable than they actually are

  • the criteria used by some of these businesses to decide which products to include in these collections may be lower than customers might reasonably expect from their descriptions and overall presentation – for example, some products may contain as little as 20% recycled fabric

  • some items have been included in these collections when they do not meet the criteria used by the business

  • there is a lack of information provided to customers about products included in any of the companies’ eco ranges, such as missing information about what the fabric is made from

  • any statements made by the companies about fabric accreditation schemes and standards are potentially misleading, such as a lack of clarity as to whether the accreditation applies to particular products or to the businesses’ wider practices

At this early stage, the CMA has not reached a view as to whether there have been any breaches of consumer protection law.

The CMA’s wider review of the fashion sector and potentially misleading environmental claims in other sectors will continue as the CMA will also consider whether to open further investigations.

Press release: ASOS, Boohoo and Asda investigated over fashion ‘green’ claims (29.7.22)

Compliance review

10 January 2022: The CMA has commenced a review of environmental claims in the fashion retail sector. This follows publication of its guidance on making environmental claims on goods and services. The CMA plans to look at other sectors in due course. However, where there is evidence of breaches of consumer law outside of the fashion retail sector, the CMA may choose to take appropriate action before the review of fashion retail has completed.

It is estimated that UK consumers spend £54 billion annually on clothing and footwear, and this is expected to continue to grow in the coming years. According to some estimates, fashion is responsible for between 2 and 8% of global carbon emissions. More and more people are trying to choose more environmentally sustainable options when buying clothes. More and more fashion businesses are making environmental claims.

This includes claims that individual items of clothing are sustainable or better for the environment, claims about use of recycled materials in new clothing and entire ranges of clothing within stores being branded as ‘sustainable’.

The CMA’s review will examine environmental claims across the fashion retail sector in the UK to determine whether or not businesses are complying with consumer protection law. Where we identify businesses which we think are ‘greenwashing’ we will take appropriate action.

Contact

The CMA continues to want to hear from you if you have experience of the types of issues covered in the green claims code.

Details of your experience can be shared with the CMA by email to: misleadinggreenclaims@cma.gov.uk

Published 26 January 2023