Asos, Asda and Boohoo under investigation over green claims

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
29 July 2022

The UK’s competition watchdog has announced an investigation into the sustainability claims of Asos, Boohoo, and George at Asda.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it would “get to the bottom of whether the firms’ green claims are misleading customers”.

The CMA will scrutinise sustainability claims made by the companies covering clothing, footwear, and accessories amid “concerns around the way the firms’ products are being marketed to customers as eco-friendly”.

The CMA will consider whether:

the statements and language used by the businesses are too broad and vague, creating the impression collections are more environmentally sustainable than they actually are;

the criteria used by the firms to decide which items go into eco collections – such as “Responsible edit” from Asos, “Ready for the Future” from Boohoo, and “George for Good” from Asda – are lower than customers might reasonably expect;

items in collections do not meet such criteria;

there is a lack of information provided to customers about products in eco ranges;

statements about fabric accreditation schemes and standards are misleading, such as whether they apply to specific products or wider practices.

The move is part of an ongoing wider CMA investigation into potential greenwashing across industries.

An estimated £54bn is spent annually by consumers in the fashion sector.

Sarah Cardell, interim chief executive of the CMA, said: “People who want to ‘buy green’ should be able to do so confident that they aren’t being misled. Eco-friendly and sustainable products can play a role in tackling climate change, but only if they are genuine.

“We’ll be scrutinising green claims from Asos, Boohoo and George at Asda to see if they stack up. Should we find these companies are using misleading eco claims, we 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.”

The CMA has written to the three firms outlining its concerns.

Asos said in response: “Asos will cooperate with the investigation and is committed to playing its part in making fashion more sustainable, including providing clear and accurate information about its products. Asos does not propose to comment on the investigation further at this stage.”

Boohoo and Asda have been approached for comment.

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