Greenwashing Fashion Brands Under Fire As UK Regulation Comes In


3 Minutes of reading

Misleading green claims from UK fashion brands will be punished. Those found to be in breach of consumer protection law will be responsible for reviewing advertising costs and potential legal action. The move is being made to prevent inaccurate and false environmental claims. The fashion industry was chosen for greenwashing investigations due to its global reach and impact.

The UK Government’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will lead the prosecution of unearthing unsubstantiated environmental claims under a new code for green claims. It comes after a rise in consumer awareness popularized seemingly greener clothing options, but the number of companies claiming to be responsible hasn’t necessarily been accompanied by the action. The authority has already published guidelines for consumers to help identify greenwashing.

A worrying trend

The fashion industry is a major contributor to carbon emissions. With brands in all price ranges feeling the pressure to reduce their footprints, concerns about greenwashing practices are on the rise. Fashion must be seen as an example of what happens to offenders.

“Now is the time for the fashion industry to take a new look at what customers are saying and make any changes necessary to comply with the law,” said Cecilia Parker Aranha, director of consumer protection at the CMA. The Guardian. Companies that cannot support their claims risk action because of the CMA and damage their reputation in the long term. “

Growing consumer distrust comes in the wake of the A Changing Markets Foundation report in 2021. Analyzing the use of synthetic fibers in the UK and the European fashion industry, the results have been disheartening. Of the 46 brands analyzed, 60% were found to make misleading or simply false claims about their ecological commitment. Leaders of the crime included fast fashion giant ASOS, the chain often referred to as Zara, and alleged eco-champion H&M. The latter was found guilty of particularly misleading marketing and production of non-environmental clothing.

The report found that H & M’s Conscious collection used more synthetic fibers than its regular lines. In addition, one in five pieces was made with 100% synthetic materials based on fossil fuels. The brand responded by stating that it is investing in recycling technologies and is certified by credible schemes, including the Global Recycled Standard. This came after the report found that recycled polyester derived from plastic bottles is not a long-term solution. Recyclability of apparel is key and H&M has been terribly short. Like many of its fellow brands.

“While brands are poised to exploit consumer concerns by using sustainability as a marketing ploy, the vast majority of those claims are all style and no substance,” Urska Trunk, campaign manager for Changing Markets, said in a statement. “As they greenwash their clothing collections, they are at the same time dragging their feet in embracing truly circular solutions, for example by not making the necessary investments to ensure a future where clothing can be recycled into clothing.”

Levi’s just announced it will do exactly that, with liquefied jeans being used to create new batches.

Time out

Time was called for false ecological claims. The CMA has allowed companies until December 31, 2021 to prove their credentials or adapt their marketing materials to remove spurious claims. By launching an investigation into greenwashing in 2020, the authority estimated that up to 40% of ecological claims, across all business sectors, could be false.

Measures are being taken against offenders. The Advertising Standards Authority has already imposed fines and restrictions on large companies, setting a precedent for others. BMW and Shell both reviewed the ads and subsequently banned them for being misleading.

Even more progress is being made in New York. If passed, the new Fashion Sustainability and Social Accountability Act will make the state the first in the United States to punish brands that contribute to climate change.


All images courtesy of Unsplash.

Leave a Comment