CMA to examine greenwash

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will investigate descriptions and labels used to promote products and services claiming to be ‘eco-friendly’, and whether they could mislead consumers.

In response to the growing number of products and services being marketed as environmentally friendly, the CMA has voiced concerns that this surge in demand for green products and services could incentivise some businesses to make misleading, vague or false claims about the sustainability or environmental impact of the things they sell.

The CMA is looking across a wide range of sectors, although it is likely to focus on those industries where consumers appear most concerned about misleading claims, including textiles and fashion, travel and transport, and fast-moving consumer goods (food and beverages, beauty products and cleaning products).

The CMA is consulting with the public, charities, businesses, and other organisations to get a clearer picture of the issues in this area. Following these discussions, the CMA intends to publish guidance for businesses next year to help them support the transition to a low carbon economy without misleading consumers. At this early stage, the CMA has not reached a view as to whether consumer protection law has been broken. However, if it finds evidence that businesses are misleading consumers, then it will take appropriate action.

Although UK marketing practices will be the focus of the CMA’s examination, the CMA is also taking a leading role in looking at green claims in a global context. Work will be carried out alongside the Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets, as part of a project with ICPEN (the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network).

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