Sporting goods retail chain Decathlon and clothing retail chain H&M have made commitments to the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) promising to adjust or no longer use sustainability claims on their clothes and/or websites. The two retail chains have committed to informing consumers more clearly in order to minimize the risk of misleading practices involving sustainability claims. In addition, they will make donations of 400,000 euros and 500,000 euros, respectively, to different sustainable causes to compensate for their use of unclear and insufficiently substantiated sustainability claims. As Decathlon and H&M have made these commitments following an ACM investigation, ACM will not impose any sanctions.
ACM follows the sustainability claims of retail chains including Decathlon and H&M
ACM explained that they have seen many potentially misleading sustainability claims in the clothing sector and that is why, in the spring of 2021, they asked clothing retailers to take a critical look at their claims.
ACM subsequently continued its investigation into Decathlon and H&M, among other retail chains. The investigation revealed, for example, that Decathlon and H&M 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 to make commitments. ACM stated that they will enforce compliance with these commitments over the next two years.
“Consumers that wish to make sustainable choices must be able to have confidence in the veracity of the claims”
Member of the Board of ACM Cateautje Hijmans van den Bergh said that consumers that wish to make sustainable choices must be able to have confidence in the veracity of the claims that businesses make on their products or websites and continued:
“We are pleased to see that these companies have acknowledged that they should have informed consumers more clearly about the sustainability aspects of their products, and that they will adjust various sustainability claims and their substantiations. They will also take measures to inform their customers better in the future. We also welcome their commitment to donate generous sums of money to sustainable causes as compensations for their vague sustainability claims. These donations go to independent organizations that contribute towards sustainability and clothing.”