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Asos, Boohoo and George at Asda investigated over ‘misleading eco claims’ by UK competition watchdog



Britain will investigate whether fashion brands ASOS, Boohoo and George at Asda are misleading shoppers about the environmental sustainability of their apparel, the country’s competition watchdog said on Friday.

“Should we find these companies are using misleading eco claims, we won’t hesitate to take enforcement action – through the courts, if necessary,” the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said.

“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.”

The agency has yet to decide whether there have been any breaches of consumer protection laws, it added. Its investigation will review “green” claims made by the companies about their clothing, footwear and accessories.

It will examine whether the language used in marketing some apparel is too broad or vague and whether the criteria used by the companies to label products as environmentally sustainable might be lower than customers might expect.

Environmental lines offered by the companies include ‘Responsible edit’ from ASOS, Boohoo’s current ‘Ready for the Future’ range, and ‘George for Good’.

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Online fashion retailer Asos said it would co-operate with the CMA investigation and was committed to providing clear and accurate information about its products. Representatives of Boohoo and Asda did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The CMA said it turned its attention to the fashion sector, where an estimated £54 billion is spent by consumers annually, in January and its initial review identified concerns around potentially misleading green claims.

It said that these included “a number of companies creating 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”.

Commenting on the probe Sarah Cardell, interim chief executive of the CMA, said: “People who want to ‘buy green’ should be able to do so confident that they aren’t being misled. Eco-friendly and sustainable products can play a role in tackling climate change, but only if they are genuine.

“We’ll be scrutinising green claims from ASOS, Boohoo and George at Asda to see if they stack up. Should we find these companies are using misleading eco claims, we won’t hesitate to take enforcement action – through the courts if necessary. 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.”

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