Fashion brands have accounted for a quarter of ‘greenwashing’ complaints since new guidelines were introduced by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) last year, according to a report by international law firm RPC.
The research reveals that the fashion and packaging sectors received the most complaints six months on from the introduction of the code, which aims to stop businesses making inaccurate or misleading claims about their environmental credentials.
In April, the Government confirmed its plan to give the CMA greater powers to impose sanctions on businesses found to breach consumer protection laws, including the ability to fine businesses as much as 10% of their annual global turnover.
According to RPC, these new powers could be used against businesses found to be making false or misleading environmental claims.
“Complaints to regulators about ‘greenwashing’ are likely to increase over the coming years in light of increasing regulatory scrutiny of green claims,” RPC retail and consumer group partner Ciara Cullen said.
“We’re also seeing regulators, such as the CMA and ASA, proactively investigating specific industries – this includes the fashion sector with the CMA recently announcing its plan to ‘name and shame’ the worst greenwashing offenders amongst fast fashion brands.
“With the CMA being granted additional enforcement powers, this will significantly increase the risk for businesses who get environmental claims wrong.
“Given the potential scope of penalties, it would be prudent for businesses to ensure that any green claims can be appropriately substantiated at the time they are made.”