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CMA urges compliance with consumer protection law in open letter to the fashion industry

The fashion industry stands at a critical juncture, where sustainability isn’t just a buzzword but a necessity. In a recent open letter, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has underlined the vital importance of green claim verification in the fashion sector. This call to action highlights the need for transparency and accountability in sustainability claims made by brands. This CMA’s open letter not only illuminates the outcomes of the CMA’s recent investigation into the fashion industry, but also underscores the importance of adhering to consumer protection laws.

Outcomes of the investigation

Following the CMA’s investigation, three fashion retailers have committed to rectifying their practices to address concerns regarding specific environmental claims and commercial practices. Central to the CMA’s message is the significance of the Green Claims Code, created by the CMA in 2021 to tackle the rise in greenwashing. The Code provides businesses with guidelines for making accurate and truthful environmental claims. By adhering to the six key principles outlined in the Code, businesses can ensure that their environmental claims are transparent, fair, and accurate.

What is greenwashing?

Greenwashing, the practice of making exaggerated or false claims about the environmental benefits of a product, has become a pervasive issue in the fashion industry. From “organic” cotton to “eco-friendly” production processes, consumers have been bombarded with labels that may not always reflect the true impact of their purchases.

The CMA’s open letter serves as a clarion call for the fashion industry to prioritise transparency and accountability in environmental claims. Compliance with consumer protection laws not only fosters consumer trust but also ensures fair competition within the industry. Businesses are urged to align their practices with the principles of the Green Claims Code and proactively engage in compliance measures to navigate the regulatory landscape effectively.

Enforcement and future penalties

In its open letter, the CMA addresses the UK Parliament’s consideration of the Digital Markets, Competition, and Consumers Bill. If this is approved in parliament, the UK government can inflict potential monetary penalties for breaches of consumer protection legislation. Non-compliance may result in penalties of up to 10% of a business’s worldwide turnover.

CMA’s directive: Compliance is key

In her closing remarks, Cecilia Parker Aranha, Director of Consumer Protection at the CMA, underscores the necessity for businesses to promptly review and, if necessary, amend their practices to comply with the law. The promotion of environmental sustainability remains a paramount priority for the CMA, with continued vigilance to ensure compliance and address any potential breaches of consumer protection law.

Green claim verification

Eurofins have a range of services that can support with 3rd party verification of green claims for example verification of biodegradability, bio-based content, traceability claims and claims around chemical content such as PFAS. If you would like assistance with green claim verification, please contact us to reach out to a member of our sustainability services team.

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