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Fashion retailers account for a quarter of greenwashing complaints


// Fashion brands account for quarter of complaints relating to unsubstantiated greenwashing claims
// The claims come after new guidelines were introduced last year

New research has found that fashion retailers account for a quarter of complaints relating to unsubstantiated greenwashing claims.

The claims come after new guidelines were introduced last year, according to research from international law firm RPC.

Five out of 21 complaints made to the CMA since the Green Claims Code was introduced in September 2021 related to the fashion industry.

READ MORE: Regulators to investigate fashion sector on suspicion of greenwashing

The Code aims to stop businesses making inaccurate or misleading claims about their (or their products’) environmental credentials.

In April, the government confirmed its plan to give the CMA greater powers to impose sanctions on businesses found to breach consumer protection laws, including the ability to fine businesses as much as 10% of their annual global turnover.

These new powers could be used against businesses found to be making false or misleading environmental claims.

Complaints made about fashion brands may relate to, for example, false or misleading claims about the use of recycled materials in a clothing line, claims that the clothing is manufactured in a “sustainable” way or that buying the product will be beneficial to the environment.

In addition to regulatory changes, businesses who engage in ‘greenwashing’ face a toughening litigation landscape in the UK.

The increasing prevalence of class action lawsuits in the UK means that businesses found to have made false or misleading environmental claims could be forced to pay out enormous sums of money in compensation to customers.

Of the 21 complaints received since the publication of the Green Claims Code, six related to packaging, five to fashion and three to groceries.

In order to avoid greenwashing, businesses should comply with the principles in the Green Claims Code and ensure:

1. Claims are truthful and accurate
2. Claims are clear and unambiguous
3. Claims should not omit or hide important relevant information
4. Comparisons should be fair and meaningful
5. Claims must relate to the full life cycle of the product or service
6. Businesses can substantiate their claims

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