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H&M, Decathlon Dial Back Claims to Dodge Greenwashing Crackdown

H&M and Decathlon will also donate €500,000 (about $508,000) and £400,000 respectively to causes linked to sustainability in the fashion industry.
A close-up shot of the H&M logo on a storefront.
This is the latest regulatory crackdown to take aim at H&M. (Shutterstock)

The two retailers have promised to “adjust or no longer use sustainability claims on their clothes and/or websites,” and ensure consumers are better-informed, according to a statement by The Netherlands’ Authority for Consumer Markets (ACM), after an investigation into potentially misleading marketing claims found that certain terms like “Ecodesign” and “Conscious” were not clear or sufficiently substantiated.

H&M and Decathlon will also donate €500,000 (about $508,000) and £400,000 respectively to causes linked to sustainability in the fashion industry.

In light of these commitments from the two companies, the ACM will not impose sanctions, the statement said. Decathlon said it is working with the ACM to address its findings that communication surrounding the brand’s “Ecodesign” label lacked clarity and detail. H&M acknowledged information shared on its site “could have been clearer and more comprehensive,” in an emailed statement. The company said it is committed to learning and establishing clearer industry-wide legal frameworks for communicating sustainability.

It’s the latest development in a growing regulatory crackdown on brands’ sustainability claims in Europe. Earlier this year, the Norwegian Consumer Authority ruled H&M and outerwear brand Nørrona could no longer use consumer-facing environmental product labels based on the Higg Index, a serious blow to the rollout of the tool developed by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition.

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In the UK, mass-market retailers Boohoo, George at Asda and Asos are being investigated for greenwashing by the Competition Markets Authority, and on the other side of the Atlantic, H&M is the subject of a class-action lawsuit filed in the state of New York, which similarly levels criticism at the fast-fashion giant’s sustainability claims.

Editor’s Note: This article was updated on Tuesday, Sept. 13 to include comments from Decathlon and H&M.

Learn more:

How Brands Should Navigate Fashion’s Greenwashing Crackdown

Companies including Boohoo, Asos and H&M are in the crosshairs, as mounting scrutiny of green claims ratchets up the pressure on brands to credibly back up any sustainability messaging.

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