Competitors Bureau investigating Lululemon over greenwashing allegations

Canada’s Competitors Bureau has opened a proper investigation into Lululemon’s environmental claims in its advertising campaigns, a spokesperson for the company advised CBC Information on Monday.

Marianne Blondin confirmed in an electronic mail that the Competitors Bureau “has commenced an investigation underneath the Competitors Act into the alleged misleading advertising practices.”

“There isn’t any conclusion of wrongdoing presently,” she wrote. “Because the Bureau is obligated by legislation to conduct its work confidentially, I can not present additional particulars on this case presently.”, the non-profit that filed the grievance in opposition to the B.C. athleisure large accusing it of greenwashing, had introduced the investigation earlier on Monday.

The grievance, which the non-profit mentioned was filed in February, says Lululemon’s Be Planet sustainability marketing campaign from 2020 — by which the corporate mentioned it might work to scale back its greenhouse fuel emissions — is contradicted by a 2022 affect report that outlined Lululemon’s progress in reaching its local weather targets.

Individuals stroll previous a Lululemon Athletica location in New York Metropolis, in March 2017. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

The affect report reveals the corporate’s Scope 3 greenhouse fuel emissions — oblique emissions that happen on account of an organization’s actions, together with these produced by prospects utilizing its merchandise— elevated from about 471,100 tonnes in 2020 to 847,400 tonnes in 2022. Lululemon wrote in its report that this space “wants acceleration.”

The corporate additionally wrote in 2020 that it “leaned into investments and partnerships to develop sustainable supplies that display our management in product innovation and environmental hurt discount.” 

A spokesperson for Lululemon mentioned the corporate is conscious of the “evaluate” by the Competitors Bureau and that it’s “dedicated to co-operating on any subsequent steps.”

“We’re assured that its evaluate will verify that the representations we make to the general public are correct and well-supported,” the spokesperson mentioned within the assertion to CBC Information on Monday. 

‘Not about making an attempt to punish’

Final 12 months, Lululemon partnered with a startup to create garments from recycled nylon and polyester. However the report from says most of the firm’s merchandise proceed to be made with polyester or nylon, each of that are supplies manufactured from fossil fuels.

“We want to create a win-win resolution with Lululemon to see them actually goal and eradicate the local weather air pollution of their provide chain,” Todd Paglia, govt director of, advised CBC Information.

“In the event that they did, we might drop our Competitors Bureau grievance. That is about outcomes, not about making an attempt to punish Lululemon.”

Underneath Part 9 of the Competitors Act, any six Canadian residents who consider that an organization is violating the act can apply to the bureau commissioner to launch an investigation.

Paglia beforehand referred to as out Lululemon for greenwashing, a time period used to explain when corporations, governments or people mislead others on their environmental observe or environmental advantages.

No authorized obligation 

Anika Kozlowski, an assistant professor of vogue design, ethics and sustainability at Toronto Metropolitan College, says there is authorized recourse if the bureau determines that Lululemon is greenwashing.

“However when it comes to corporations truly having to fulfil these guarantees, there’s actually no authorized obligation on their finish, as typically these are simply voluntary,” she mentioned.

Lululemon is not the lone vogue retailer navigating these points, Kozlowski says; it is an industry-wide downside.

“If you take a look at what the foundation trigger is, it is simply infinite manufacturing and the kind of supplies that we’re utilizing,” she mentioned, referring to petroleum-based artificial materials particularly.

“Even when we did it sustainably, there’s nonetheless going to be affect if we’re doing it on the quantity that these corporations are doing it.”

She says if the Competitors Bureau finds that Lululemon makes use of misleading advertising, it “will simply assist clear the waters for customers, if they’re making an attempt to buy higher, [so] that they perceive a bit extra what they’re shopping for.

WATCH | CBC Youngsters Information explains greenwashing: 

Greenwashing: the key that some manufacturers don’t need you to know | CBC Youngsters Information

Do you ever see corporations utilizing phrases like “sustainable” or “eco-friendly?” It could possibly be a clue that they’re doing one thing referred to as greenwashing.

Talking with CBC Information exterior of a Lululemon retailer in Toronto, Gracie Valentine mentioned that greenwashing is “fairly huge these days, sadly.”

“Firms are just about simply allowed to say no matter, so it is exhausting to even know which of them to buy at now,” Valentine mentioned.

Shavana Kunj, who was window-shopping with Valentine, mentioned that firm executives ought to be held answerable for a model’s enterprise practices — not the patrons who purchase their merchandise.

“I am carrying Lululemon proper now. It sucks, however I am nonetheless going to buy on the locations that I like,” Kunj mentioned.

A spokesperson for Lululemon beforehand advised CBC Information the corporate is concentrated on serving to create an {industry} that’s “extra sustainable and addresses the intense impacts of local weather change.”

The corporate is dedicated to its decarbonization plan, the spokesperson added, with the intention of assembly its 2030 local weather targets and attaining net-zero emissions by 2050.

“We acknowledge that almost all of affect comes from emissions inside the broader provide chain,” the spokesperson wrote, including that the corporate reported by itself emissions within the 2022 annual report.

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