Zalando to Halt ‘Misleading’ Green Claims After EU Probe

Zalando SE, one of Europe’s largest online fashion retailers, has agreed to remove “misleading” symbols that would lead consumers to assume a product is more sustainable than it really is, ending a two-year-long probe.

Following “a dialogue” with the European Commission, the company has committed to adjust its conduct, according to a statement by the EU’s executive arm on Thursday. Undocumented green claims “can mislead consumers about the environmental characteristics of the products,” the commission said.

Officials from Germany, Denmark, Norway and Sweden started a coordinated action in April 2022 to investigate compliance with consumer protection laws, according to the statement. Zalando said it’s been working with authorities for a year and the agreement means the proceedings against the company now “have been discontinued, subject to implementation of agreed changes.”

Zalando supports a “standardised application of existing policies to ensure that no practices are used that could be misleading to customers,” according to a spokesperson.

The commitment from Zalando means that from mid-April, it will no longer display sustainability icons or flags next to products, the commission said. Instead, clear information about a product’s environmental benefits, such as the percentage of recycled materials used, will be provided, it said. Zalando will also be required to submit a report on the implementation of its commitments.

The company is being called out after the European Union imposed a ban on misleading environmental claims by companies regarding their products. Under the ban, businesses can no longer make general statements declaring that a product is “environmentally friendly,” “natural,” “biodegradable,” “climate neutral” or “eco” unless it can provide clear and credible proof those claims are reliable.

“Businesses must provide truthful information to consumers and have to refrain from misleading consumers to influence their choices,” the commission said in its statement on Thursday. “EU rules on unfair commercial practices enable national enforcers to curb a broad range of unfair business practices.”

By Frances Schwartzkopff

Learn more:

EU Proposes Clampdown on ‘Green’ Claims

The European Commission proposed rules on Wednesday that would require companies in Europe to back up climate-friendly claims about their products with evidence, to stamp out misleading green labels for products from clothing to cosmetics and electronic goods.

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