It was announced on Friday that the three fashion brands – Asda’s George,
ASOS, and Boohoo – are now under investigation by the Competition and Markets
Authority (CMA) on their claims of being eco-friendly.
The three companies are being accused of greenwashing, which can be
defined as a marketing tool employed by organisations using disinformation in
attempts to deceive the public into believing their goods and/or services and
policies are environmentally friendly. Businesses use greenwashing to present a
false image of themselves to the public without actively making any ‘green’ and
sustainable change to their operations.
The CMA had already begun to scrutinize the fashion sector back in January,
and an initial review had found issues surrounding misleading green claims.
The watchdog indicated that “a number of companies [created] the
impression that their products were ‘sustainable’ or better for the environment
– for example by making broad claims about the use of recycled materials in new
clothing – with little to no information about the basis for those claims or
exactly which products they related to.”
According to the CMA, “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.”
This is not new with fast fashion, which continues to have a negative impact
on the environment, contributing to and encouraging overconsumption which in
turns leads to a vast amount of textile waste. The problem with fast fashion
starts from the factory and does not end even when the lives of the clothes are
essentially at their end, from underpaid workers to high carbon emissions.
The CMA’s interim Chief Executive, Sarah Cardell said, “People who want
to ‘buy green’ should be able to do so confident that they aren’t being misled.
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.”
All three companies have agreed to co-operate with the CMA and their
The outcome of this investigation depends on the evidence the CMA has and
with it, the “possible outcomes include securing undertakings from the
companies to change the way they operate, taking the firms to court, or closing
the case without further action.”
A wider investigation is said to be ongoing and soon the eco-friendly claims
of other sectors will be examined to ensure whether they are or are not guilty of