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Decathlon, a retailer of athletic goods, and H&M, a retailer of apparel, have both pledged to provide consumers with clearer information in order to reduce the possibility of deceptive practises regarding sustainability claims, according to the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM). ACM requested that clothes sellers evaluate their promises critically in 2021.

ACM’s investigation into Decathlon and H&M, among other retail chains, revealed, for example, that these companies offered their products using general terms like “Ecodesign” and “Conscious” without immediately defining clearly the sustainability benefits with the claim. This is one of many potentially deceptive sustainability claims that have been seen in the clothing sector.

The two stores made it clear during the investigation that they were willing to change their methods and to make pledges, according to ACM, which added that it would monitor adherence to the commitments over the following two years.

“Businesses who intend to promote their products using sustainability claims must make sure that such representations are correct, unambiguous, and verifiable,” according to ACM rules governing sustainability claims. Consumers will be mislead if not.

The ACM recommendations include five general guidelines for truthful sustainability statements. Make sure to be explicit about the product’s sustainability benefits, back up your assertions about sustainability with data, and make fair comparisons to similar goods, services, and organisations. Describe your company’s sustainability activities in detail and honestly. Also, make sure that visual claims and labelling are clear to consumers and not misleading.

ACM stated on its website that Decathlon and H&M will also donate €400,000 and €500,000 to independent groups that support sustainability and clothes, respectively, in addition to their commitments.