Sporting goods retail chain Decathlon and clothing retail chain H&M have committed to informing consumers more clearly in order to minimize the risk of misleading practices involving sustainability, media reported according to the claims of The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM).
In 2021, ACM asked clothing retailers to take a critical look at their claims.
Having seen many potentially misleading sustainability claims in the clothing sector, ACM’s investigation into Decathlon and H&M, among other retail chains, revealed, for example, that these companies offered their products using general terms such as ‘Ecodesign’ and ‘Conscious’ without immediately specifying clearly the sustainability benefits with the claim.
In the course of the investigation, the two retailers indicated they were willing to adjust their practices and make commitments, ACM said, adding that it will enforce compliance with the commitments over the next two years.
ACM guidelines regarding sustainability claims state that “businesses that wish to promote their products using sustainability claims must make sure that such claims are correct, clear, and verifiable. Otherwise, consumers will be misled.”
ACM’s guidelines contain five rules of thumb for honest sustainability claims. These are: make clear what sustainability benefit the product offers; substantiate your sustainability claims with facts, and keep them up-to-date; comparisons with other products, services, or companies must be fair; be honest and specific about your company’s efforts with regard to sustainability; and make sure that visual claims and labels are useful to consumers, not confusing.
In addition to their commitments, Decathlon and H&M will make donations of €400,000 and €500,000 respectively, which will go to independent organizations that contribute towards sustainability and clothing, ACM said on its website.