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Environmental Claims: CMA Expands Investigations To Cover Household Essentials And Food & Drink – Environmental Law


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The CMA today announced that it will examine the accuracy of
environmental (green) claims made about household essentials
– such as food, drink, and toiletries – to make sure
shoppers are not being misled.

This means the CMA is expanding its ongoing investigations into
‘greenwashing’, to ensure products and services that claim
to be green or eco-friendly are being marketed to shoppers

The CMA’s review will examine a wide range of products known
as ‘fast-moving consumer goods’ (FMCG).
These are essential items used by people on a daily basis and
repurchased regularly, such as food and drink, cleaning products,
toiletries, and personal care items.

In 2021, the average household spent almost £70 a week on
food and drink alone, and the FMCG sector as a whole is worth over
£130 billion annually.

The CMA will investigate claims both online and in store,
including on-pack, for compliance with UK consumer protection law
(in particular, the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading
Regulations 2008). It will review whether such claims are being
made in line with its Green
Claims Code

The CMA suggests that it will consider the use of vague and
broad eco-statements for example packaging or marketing a product
as ‘sustainable’ or ‘better for the environment’
with no evidence; misleading claims about the use of recycled or
natural materials in a product and how recyclable it is; and entire
ranges being incorrectly branded as ‘sustainable’.

The CMA has hinted that it will be scrutinising companies both
“big and small” (and everything in between) to see
whether their environmental claims stack up. They say that
“Now is a good time for businesses to review their practices
and make sure they’re operating within the law.”

How the review develops will depend on the CMA’s assessment
of the evidence before it. If the CMA uncovers evidence suggesting
green claims could be unfounded, it will consider taking
enforcement action using its formal powers – for example,
opening an investigation into specific companies.

Still in vogue

In January 2022, the CMA turned its attention to the fashion
sector, launching enforcement action against
well-known fashion brands ASOS, Boohoo and George at Asda in July
last year. The CMA wrote to the 3 companies outlining its concerns.
Those investigations are ongoing, and the fashion sector
shouldn’t relax just yet.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

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