Sep 15 / Watchdog Compliance

Clothing businesses tripped up on vague enviro claims

The Dutch regulator (the ACM) announced this week that two major clothing brands have made commitments to make donations of €400,000 (euros) and €500,000 (euros) each, to different sustainable causes, to compensate for their use of vague, unclear and insufficiently substantiated sustainability claims. 

These claims included the use of general terms such as 'ecodesign' and 'conscious' without clearly and immediately specifying the sustainability benefits of the claims. The two clothing brands have committed to informing consumers more clearly, in order to minimise the risk of misleading practices involving sustainability claims. Businesses that wish to promote their products using sustainability claims must make sure that such claims are correct, clear, and verifiable. Otherwise, consumers may be misled.


A current priority area for the Australian regulator (the ACCC) is environmental claims and sustainability. 
Businesses are reminded to carefully review their product range and any environmental claims prior to making those claims. The use of logos should also be considered.  

The ACM set out five rules of thumb for making sustainability claims as follows:

  1. Make clear what sustainability benefit the product offers
  2. Substantiate your sustainability claims with facts, and keep them up-to-date
  3. Comparisons with other products, services, or companies must be fair
  4. Be honest and specific about your company’s efforts with regard to sustainability
  5. Make sure that visual claims and labels are useful to consumers, not confusing