Fast fashion giant H&M adjusts eco labels amid greenwashing crackdown

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The Netherlands’ Authority for Consumer Markets (ACM) has asked fashion giant H&M to make its environmental claims clearer or remove them altogether, after a report found them making “unclear and insufficiently substantiated sustainability claims.”

In response, the fast fashion brand has agreed to “adjust” their labels to make claims clearer, or remove them altogether.

H&M currently uses a ‘conscious’ filter on its website and places the term on tags in stores, but the regulator found that in some cases, customers were given no evidence as to why products fit into these categories. A spokesperson from H&M responded that the brand will remove the ‘Conscious Choice indictor’ from their website worldwide by the end of October.

The ACM will not penalise H&M financially at this time, but has said it will monitor the brand’s activity for the next two years.

The ACM’s probe comes amid increased regulatory scrutiny on sustainability claims worldwide, and it’s not the first time H&M has found itself accused of greenwashing.

In August this year a class action complaint was filed against H&M in New York federal court, criticising its use of the Higg Materials Sustainability Index to “justify charging premium prices for ‘sustainably-made clothing which is no more sustainable than items in its main collection”

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A Norwegian advertising watchdog has banned Higg Scorecards, after finding many of the environmental claims made based on its data to be ‘misleading or outright deceptive’, and The Sustainable Apparel Coalition has paused its use of them across the market.

Other brands are also facing tougher regulation. The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) recently confirmed that it twill conduct in-depth investigations into Asos, Boohoo and George at Asda, as the first brands in a wider crackdown against misleading green claims. This follows its initial review of marketing and labelling in the fashion sector and the release of the Green Claims Code guidance to help brands from all industries ensure their sustainability claims are compliant.

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