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Fashion brands pause use of sustainability index tool over greenwashing claims

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An alliance of major fashion brands has announced that it is pausing its use of a tool to measure garments’ sustainability after critics described it as greenwashing.Until this week, shoppers could go on to H&M’s website and check the environmental impact of 655 of its garments, as rated by the Higg Materials Sustainability Index (MSI), a suite of tools launched last year by a global non-profit alliance, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC).For example, one pair of cotton shorts was described as using “88% less [water] than conventional materials”; its global warming impact was “14% less than conventional materials”.However, the SAC has announced that it is “pausing” its product-labelling tool after the Norwegian Consumer Authority (NCA) warned H&M Group two weeks ago against using the Higg index to support its environmental claims.

It addded that if it was still using such marketing by 1 September, it would risk economic sanctions.Although Norway’s consumer watchdog did not investigate H&M’s claims, it did so with those of a Norwegian outdoor brand, Norrøna (who also used the Higg index on its website).

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