The sustainability claims made by Primark on the large posters in its Dutch stores are misleading. The Advertising Law Commission has reached this conclusion.
The clothing chain has placed texts on labels such as “Reduce CO2 emissions by 50%. So the planet can breathe freely” and “Organic, recycled, sustainable and affordable cotton.” According to the committee, this falsely gives the impression that this is already the situation at Primark, when in fact it is a goal for the future.
Primark makes this clear on labels, but in such small print consumers can easily miss it, according to the committee. In addition, there are doubts about the feasibility of some claims. For example, Primark wants to halve emissions by 2027, according to the small letters, but according to the committee, there is no concrete step-by-step plan to achieve this.
The committee found that the claim to stop using single-use plastic was similarly misleading.
The panel also ruled on a poster that read, “We make our clothes circular. So that the world keeps turning.” This label again contains text in small print that clothing will be recyclable in 2027, but the committee also says this nuance probably won’t be noticed by consumers. In addition, the Committee believes that Primark does not sufficiently make clear that “circular” in this context means “recyclable”.
The case was brought to the committee by fashion journalist Sarah Dobeldam. Primark is appealing the ruling. A Modeplatform spokesperson said: “Our goals are realistic, achievable and clearly communicated, including through an annual report.” United Fashion.
As long as the appeal continues, the chain will not have to amend anything. However, if the ruling is upheld on appeal, the Commission could ask the supervisory authority of the Consumer and Markets Authority (ACM) to intervene.
Something to hold on to
The ruling can also provide guidance, for example, in a civil suit you may pursue. Going to civil court is “definitely worth considering,” says lawyer Laura van Geyn from law firm De Roos, who went to the committee on behalf of Dobeldam.
It is more common that clothing brands and retail chains do not properly inform consumers about the sustainability of their products. For example, last year ACM confronted Decathlon and H&M over the use of the terms “ecodesign” and “consciousness” without clarifying what those terms meant. No penalties were imposed because the two companies promised to inform consumers more clearly from now on and donated a total of 900 thousand euros to various sustainable causes.
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