Millions of consumers will now have more confidence in the green claims they see on Asos, Boohoo and George at Asda when shopping for fashion items after the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) secured agreements from the three companies, which commits them to inform their customers properly in the future.

The agreements, come as a result of the CMA’s extensive 20-month investigation into the three fashion retailers in 2022 – which together make over £4.4bn ($5.5bn) annually from UK fashion sales alone –   after identifying concerns over “potential greenwashing” practices.

ASOS said the voluntary undertaking by itself and the others “set a benchmark” for the industry. The online retailer said it welcomes the CMA’s commitment to ensuring “equal standards” are carried out across the fashion industry to create a “level playing field” in the best interest of customers.

“Sharing clear and accurate information on the sustainability credentials of fashion products is crucial to empowering consumers to make fully informed choices,” said Asos.

It built on its commitment through its focus on its “Fashion with Integrity Progress Update” which publicly provides clear and accurate information on the environmental impacts of its products and business.

Boohoo revealed it was not found to have breached any consumer protection law and did not intentionally mislead consumers.

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John Lyttle, CEO of Boohoo Group plc, commented: “Along with the other retailers who have been a part of this process, we have chosen to sign a set of undertakings that will provide some helpful clarity on how the CMAs green claims code operates in practice.

“We remain committed to working with others to find collective solutions to the shared challenges of sustainability within the fashion industry.”

All the retailers collectively embrace any action that drives changes within the sector and allows consumers to make informed choices about the fashion products they buy.

A spokesperson from George at Asda told Just Style: “We support any measures aimed at improving consumers’ understanding of environmental claims and providing clear and consistent guidelines to the fashion industry as a whole regarding the future use of such claims.”

Sarah Cardell, chief executive at the CMA, commented on the significance of the agreements, stating: “Following our action, the millions of people who shop with these well-known businesses can now have confidence in the green claims they see.”

Cardell further highlighted that these commitments serve as a benchmark for the entire fashion industry, urging other retailers to review their practices accordingly.

CMA has issued an open letter to the fashion retail sector, to get businesses to review their claims and practices in alignment with the newly established benchmarks, with plans to expand its Green Claims Code, tailoring additional guidance specifically for the fashion industry to further support compliance efforts.

Key components of the undertakings that commit Asos, Boohoo and George at Asda agreed to include:

  • Green claims: Asos, Boohoo and George at Asda must ensure all green claims are accurate and not misleading. Key information must be clear and prominent, meaning it must be expressed in plain language, easy to read, and clearly visible to shoppers.
  • Statements regarding fabrics: Statements made about materials in green ranges must be specific and clear, such as “organic” or “recycled”, rather than ambiguous – e.g., using terms like “eco”, “responsible”, or “sustainable” without further explanation. The percentage of recycled or organic fibres must be clearly displayed and easy for customers to see. A product cannot be called “recycled” or “organic” unless it meets certain criteria.
  • Criteria for green ranges: The criteria used to decide which products are included in environmental collections – such as Asos’s former “Responsible edit”, Boohoo’s “Ready for the Future” range, and George at Asda’s “George for Good”, and any further ranges – must be clearly set out and detail any minimum requirements. For example, if products need to contain a certain percentage of recycled fibres to be included in the range, this should be made clear. Products must not be marketed or labelled as part of an environmental range unless they meet all the relevant criteria.
  • Use of imagery: The firms 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.
  • Product filters: Search filters must be accurate, only showing items that meet the filter requirements – for example, if a consumer uses a filter to show ‘recycled’ trousers, only trousers made from predominantly recycled materials should be shown.
  • Environmental targets: Any claims made to consumers about environmental targets must be supported by a clear and verifiable strategy, and customers must be able to access more details about it. Such information should include what the target is aiming to achieve, the date by which it is expected to be met, and how the company in question will seek to achieve that target.
  • Accreditation schemes: Statements made by the companies about accreditation schemes and standards must not be misleading. For example, statements must make clear whether an accreditation applies to particular products or the firm’s wider practices.

To ensure compliance, the three firms must provide regular reports to the CMA on their adherence to the commitments, while also taking steps to enhance their internal processes.