Yesterday, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced that it is investigating ‘green’ claims made about various fast moving consumer goods (FMCG), including food and drink, cleaning and personal care products.
As noted in our previous blog, last year the CMA identified FMCG as a priority area of concern for potential greenwashing claims, alongside fashion, travel and transport. It opened an investigation into three fashion brands in July 2022, following the start of its compliance review into the fashion retail sector (which is ongoing). The CMA has not yet announced its plans regarding investigating greenwashing in the travel and transport sector.
In the coming months, the CMA is expected to review claims for a range of FMCG products, to assess whether they comply with the CMA’s Green Claims Code and the underlying legislation, the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (which impose criminal penalties for misleading B2C conduct). As it did for fashion claims, the CMA may then decide to open formal investigations into claims made by specific businesses.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) also continues to examine green claims made by businesses in the UK. As well as considering what consumers understand when general claims are made (such as ‘net zero’ and ‘carbon neutral’) – see our blog, here – the ASA is continuing to scrutinise specific claims made in the automotive industry, including concerning electric vehicles. The ASA is expected to publish further research into consumer understanding of claims made in the food and waste sectors later this year.
Other regulators in Europe, notably the Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) in the Netherlands, have also been particularly active in this space. As discussed in our previous blog here, the ACM has also been closely investigating specific sectors including fashion and textiles. Yesterday, the ACM published its key priorities for 2023, which indicate that it will continue to closely scrutinise greenwashing.
To discuss these or other sustainability-related developments, please reach out to the authors or your usual Freshfields contact.