UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will investigate the green claims made by companies marketing food and drink, cleaning products, toiletries, and personal care items, as reported by ESG Today on January 31. The CMA will examine practices including the use of vague and broad eco-statements like labeling products as “better for the environment” or “sustainable” with no evidence, and misleading claims about the use of recycled or natural materials in a product and how recyclable it is. If evidence suggests that the green claims could be unfounded, the CMA may launch an investigation into specific companies.
The probe is a part of CMA’s broader investigation into greenwashing to determine if consumers are being misled by sustainability claims in product and service marketing. In 2021, the regulator introduced the “Green Claims Code,” which outlines principles for making eco-friendly claims based on consumer law. In 2022, the CMA began examining the fashion sector, leading to greenwashing investigations at retailers ASOS [ASC:LN], Boohoo [BOO:LN], and George at Asda. On January 13, the European Commission also filed a draft proposal to require companies in the EU to provide scientific evidence to support any environmental claims made about their products. A survey conducted by the European Commission in 2020 found that 53% of the claims studied provided “vague, misleading or unfounded information about products’ environmental characteristics.”