Zalando SE, one of Europe's most prominent online fashion retailer, has agreed to dismantle symbols deemed "misleading" in implying greater sustainability than reality, thus concluding a comprehensive two-year inquiry.

In a statement released on Thursday by the European Commission, Zalando affirmed its commitment to rectify its practices after engaging in "dialogue" with the EU’s executive body. The Commission highlighted the risk of deceptive green assertions, emphasizing the potential to mislead consumers regarding product sustainability.

The investigative initiative, initiated jointly by authorities from Germany, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden in April 2022, aimed to scrutinize adherence to consumer protection regulations, as outlined in the statement. Zalando acknowledged collaboration with regulatory bodies over the past year, culminating in an agreement that suspends legal proceedings "subject to implementation of agreed changes."

According to a Zalando spokesperson, the company advocates for a "standardised application of existing policies" to prevent customer misdirection. Effective mid-April, Zalando will eliminate sustainability icons or flags from its platform, opting instead for transparent disclosures concerning a product’s environmental attributes, such as the proportion of recycled materials utilized. Furthermore, Zalando commits to submitting a comprehensive report documenting the execution of its commitments.

The retailer's compliance initiative coincides with the European Union's crackdown on deceptive environmental assertions by commercial entities. Under these regulations, companies are prohibited from making unsubstantiated claims such as "environmentally friendly," "natural," "biodegradable," "climate neutral," or "eco-friendly."

In its Thursday statement, the Commission underscored the imperative for businesses to furnish consumers with accurate information, abstaining from manipulative tactics. The EU's framework on unfair commercial practices empowers national regulators to curb a broad spectrum of misleading business practices.

Zalando's responsive measures signify a step towards enhanced transparency in the fashion industry, aligning with broader European efforts to safeguard consumer interests and promote responsible consumption.

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