Unilever investigated in UK over greenwashing


Unilever, a globally renowned consumer goods giant, is facing an investigation by Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the UK regulatory authority, for alleged "greenwashing." The company is accused of exaggerating its “environment-friendly” products through tactics such as the use of green leaf patterns and vague language. In response to these allegations, Unilever has issued a statement refuting the claims.

Following a preliminary investigation, the CMA announced on Tuesday (12/12) that Unilever, in its promotion of certain products, may have misled consumers by claiming terms such as "natural" and "recyclable." This includes the claims about some ingredients are presented in a way that exaggerate how “natural” the product is. 

Unilever House in London. (Photo: Unilever)

Sarah Cardell, Chief Executive of the CMA, states that, “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.”

The CMA's statement did not specify a timeline for concluding the investigation. However, upon the release of the results, it is not ruled out that legal actions may be pursued, or Unilever may be requested to alter its practices. There is also a possibility that the case could be closed without further action.

Unilever has long positioned itself as a leader in sustainable development and boasts a portfolio of well-known household brands such as Dove and Vaseline. In response to the CMA's scrutiny, Unilever denies all the allegations, asserting that its promotional content is transparent and clear. The company expressed surprise and disappointment in its statement regarding the CMA's inquiry but affirmed its commitment to cooperate with the investigation.

Unilever boasts a portfolio of well-known household brands such as Dove and Vaseline. (Photo: Unilever)

Since January, the CMA has expanded its investigation scope to include everyday consumer goods such as food, beverages, and personal care products. Unilever is the first major consumer goods company to be specifically named for a thorough investigation in this regard. Prior to this, the CMA's efforts to combat greenwashing had already made waves in the fashion industry.

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