The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is set to examine the environmental claims being made by consumer goods group Unilever to ensure that shoppers are not being misled.

Unilever is known for its worldwide brands such as Cif, Dove, Comfort, and Lynx.

In January this year, the authority broadened its scrutiny on environmental claims to encompass fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG). This move comes as consumers paid out more than £140bn in total on FMCG products in 2022.

The watchdog is concerned that the company may be exaggerating how green some of its essential household items are.

In its initial review, the watchdog found some concerning practices.

According to the regulatory authority, some statements and language used on Unilever’s packaging could be considered vague and broad, which may mislead consumers about the actual environmental impact of those products.

The CMA stated that the claims surrounding some ingredients have been presented in a fashion that may exaggerate how ‘natural’ the product is, in turn creating an inaccurate impression.

It also found that claims focusing on a single aspect of a product may indicate to consumers that the product, as a whole, is environmentally friendly.

Some green claims, especially those related to recyclability, may not be clear as they do not indicate whether these are regarding all or part of the product or packaging.

Furthermore, the use of specific colours and imagery such as green leaves may give the impression to shoppers that some products are more environmentally friendly than they in fact are.

The watchdog has detailed its concerns to the company and plans to obtain further proof to advance its investigation. 

Among the possible outcomes from this probe include witnessing tangible undertakings from the company to alter the way it operates, taking it to court, or closing the case without any further action.

CMA CEO Sarah Cardell said: “Essentials like detergent, kitchen spray, and toiletries are the kinds of items you put in your supermarket basket every time you shop.

“More and more people are trying to do their bit to help protect the environment, but we’re worried many are being misled by so-called ‘green’ products that aren’t what they seem.”

Last month, Greenpeace International claimed that Unilever is selling 1,700 polluting plastic sachets per second.