The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will scrutinise the eco-friendly and sustainability claims made by the three companies about their fashion products, including clothing, footwear and accessories.
The latest probe comes as part of the CMA’s ongoing investigation into potential greenwashing and follows allegations around the way the fashion brands’ products are being marketed.
The competition watchdog has written to the three companies, outlining its concerns and will use its information gathering powers to obtain evidence for its investigation.
It will look into whether the statements and language used by the brands 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 CMA will also investigate whether 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 – and if some items that don’t meet the criteria have been included in these collections.
In addition, the investigation will seek to find out if there is a lack of information provided to customers about products included in the eco-friendly ranges and whether any statements made by the companies about fabric accreditation schemes and standards are potentially misleading.
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 launch of the investigation follows the CMA’s initial review into the fashion industry – where an estimated £54 billion is spent by consumers annually – which identified concerns around potentially misleading green claims, including a number of companies creating the impression their products were sustainable or better for the environment with little to no information about the basis for those claims or exactly which products they relate to.åç