Man and woman exiting retail store, elevated view

CMA publishes undertakings given by ASOS, Boohoo and ASDA following greenwashing investigation

The three retail giants have entered into agreements published by the UK Consumers and Markets Authority (CMA) on 27 March 2024, following which the CMA says that millions of consumers can now expect to see accurate and clear green claims when shopping for fashion items at the retailers.

The action brings an end to the CMA’s investigation, originally launched in July 2022, into the three retailers, without a finding of infringement of consumer law.

The CMA has on the same date, published an open letter to all businesses in the fashion retail sector, emphasising that they must consider their obligations under consumer protection law when making environmental claims. In particular, they should pay heed to the six key principles set out in the CMA’s Green Claims Code.

The open letter makes clear that businesses should familiarise themselves with the code, and with the commitments in the undertakings provided by the retailers, and take steps to ensure that environmental claims are compliant.

What this means for all retailers

While these undertakings were directed at ASOS, Boohoo and George at Asda, all retailers must ensure that:

  • Green claims: retailers must ensure all green claims are accurate and not misleading. Key information must be clear and prominent.
  • Statements regarding fabrics: statements made about materials must be specific and clear, such as “organic” or “recycled”, rather than ambiguous, such as “eco” or “responsible”, without further explanation. The percentage of recycled or organic fibres must be clearly displayed and easy for customers to see. A product may not be described as “organic” or “recycled” where it does not meet certain criteria.
  • Use of imagery: the retailers must not use “natural” imagery such as green leaves, logos or icons in a way that suggests a product is more environmentally friendly than it is.

Retailers should read Michelmores’ full article here and read the CMA’s Open letter to the fashion sector to familiarise themselves with the guidance and ensure they are compliant.

If you would like to discuss any of the issues raised in this article, please contact Iain Connor.