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Asda, Boohoo and Asos to change green claims in ads after watchdog probe

ASOS, Boohoo and George at Asda have been told to change the way they “display, describe and promote their green credentials,” after the conclusion of an investigation by the competition watchdog in what has been described as a “benchmark” ruling for the retail fashion category.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced today (27 March) it had secured agreements from the trio to make changes following an investigation launched in 2022 into claims by the retailers having identified concerns about greenwashing during an initial review of the fashion sector.

The retailers, which together make more than £4.4 billion annually from UK fashion sales, have agreed to ensure key information is prominent and in clear language, and environmental claims must be specific and clear, rather than ambiguous.

The rise of ‘greenhushing’: Why are brands going silent about their sustainability efforts?Phrases such as ‘organic’ and ‘recycled’ may be used if products meet specific criteria; phrases such ‘eco,’ ‘responsible’ and ‘sustainable’ may not be used without further explanation.

The retailers must also provide more information to consumers, such as the percentage of recycled fibres for example, when including products in ranges such as the ‘Responsible Edit’ formerly offered by ASOS, or the ‘George for Good’ selection.

Limits have been imposed on the use of images such as leaves or other green icons to suggest that items are more environmentally-friendly than they are, and online search filters must be more accurate when environmental search terms are input.

Statements about accreditation schemes and environmental targets must not be misleading, and should be verifiable so that consumers can look into them.

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All three brands must provide the CMA with regular reports on their compliance with the rules.

In a statement to announce the ruling, CMA chief executive Sarah Cardell claims it action will ensure “the millions of people who shop with these well-known businesses can now have confidence in the green claims they see,”

‘Turning point’ on green claims

She adds the ruling marks a “a turning point for the industry”.

“The commitments set a benchmark for how fashion retailers should be marketing their products, and we expect the sector as a whole – from high street to designer brands – to take note and review their own practices,” Cardell says.

Responding to the CMA’s findings, Asos says: “Asos has co-operated fully and openly with the CMA throughout its investigation, and we have voluntarily given an undertaking to the CMA.”

It adds in a statement: “The CMA states that the commitments made by ASOS and others “set a benchmark” for the industry, and that it will build on the current Green Claims Code with additional information tailored to the fashion sector. Alongside the announcement, the CMA issued an open letter to the fashion industry, urging other fashion retail businesses to review their claims and practices in light of the undertakings.

“We welcome the CMA’s commitment to ensuring equal standards are applied across the fashion industry to create a level playing field in the best interests of consumers.”

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