Retailers warned they will face “full force” of regulator over fake greenwashing claims

Retailers will soon be hit with the “full force” of the advertising regulator if they cannot back up sustainability claims made in their advertising.

Today the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published strict new advertising guidance aimed at cracking down on “greenwashing”, false or exaggerated sustainability claims made by brands to boost sales.

The ‘Green Claims Code’ will come into force in January 2022, aimed ensuring all businesses from “fashion giants and supermarket chains to local shops” are transparent and open about the entire lifecycle of their products.

According to a study conducted alongside global authorities last year, up to 40 per cent of green claims made online could be misleading or entirely false.

Partner at law firm RPC Ciara Cullen said: “The publication of the CMA’s guidance on green claims is a clear message to UK retailers and consumer brands: make sure you comply with consumer laws or face the regulator’s full force of enforcement.

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“While brands are encouraged to innovate, we all know “sustainability sells” so those that fail to live up to their commitments are likely to face action, when the honeymoon period comes to an end in January 2022.

“As a vital engine of the UK’s economy, retailers and consumer brands are right to innovate through offering greener and more sustainable products to consumers. With a tougher enforcement regime looming, companies should however review their environmental claims now and ensure they are truthful, accurate and not ambiguous to avoid misleading consumers.

“Retailers must also be transparent and not cherry-pick to prevent consumers making an informed choice – if you can’t substantiate the claim, don’t make it. The regulator’s message couldn’t be clearer – we are watching you!”

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