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Unilever under fire for alleged greenwashing

By Rachel Douglass


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Unilever portfolio products. Credits: Unilever

Personal care and cosmetics giant Unilever is facing an investigation by a UK watchdog over a series of environmental claims it has made leading to greenwashing allegations.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has initiated a review into the “concerning practices” of the conglomerate, including that of “vague and broad” language, the possible exaggeration of how “natural” products are and claims made in relation to recyclability.

The move comes after CMA expanded its work on environmental-related reviews back in January to include “fast-moving consumer goods” (FMCG), making cleaning products, personal care and toiletries now a part of its concern.

In a release, Sarah Cardell, chief executive of the CMA, said: “Essentials like detergent, kitchen spray, and toiletries are the kinds of items you put in your supermarket basket every time you shop.

“More and more people are trying to do their bit to help protect the environment, but we’re worried many are being misled by so-called ‘green’ products that aren’t what they seem.

“So far, the evidence we’ve seen has raised concerns about how Unilever presents certain products as environmentally friendly. We’ll be drilling down into these claims to see if they measure up. If we find they’re greenwashing, we’ll take action to make sure shoppers are protected.”

Since the inclusion of the FMCG sector within the organisation’s compliance review, the CMA has said that it had seen “some positive changes”, including the removal of some green claims made by a number of suppliers.