Canada

Canada’s competition bureau investigating Lululemon’s green claims, non-profit says

Canada’s competition bureau is opening a formal investigation into Lululemon’s environmental practices, according to a non-profit group that filed against the B.C. athleisure giant that accused it of greenwashing.

“Stand.earth representatives were notified late last week by Competition Bureau Canada that it has officially opened an inquiry into Lululemon, following a complaint filed by the environmental advocacy organization that alleges the apparel company misleads customers about its environmental impact,” the Vancouver-based organization said in a statement to CBC News.

CBC News has reached out to Canada’s competition bureau for comment.

Stand.earth’s complaint, which the non-profit said was filed in February, says Lululemon’s Be Planet sustainability campaign from 2020 — in which the company said it would work to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions — is contradicted by a 2022 impact report that outlined Lululemon’s progress in reaching its climate goals.

The impact report shows the company’s Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions — indirect emissions that occur as a result of a company’s activities, including those produced by customers using its products— increased from about 471,100 tonnes in 2020 to 847,400 tonnes in 2022. Lululemon wrote in its report that this area “needs acceleration.”

The company also wrote in 2020 that it “leaned into investments and partnerships to develop sustainable materials that demonstrate our leadership in product innovation and environmental harm reduction.” 

Last year, Lululemon partnered with a startup to create clothes from recycled nylon and polyester. But the report from Stand.earth notes that many of the company’s products continue to be made with polyester or nylon, both of which are materials manufactured from fossil fuels.

“Lululemon’s customers around the world need to know the real impacts of their climate pollution, not the greenwashed version they sell their products with,” Todd Paglia, executive director at Stand.earth, said in the company’s statement.

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Paglia previously called out Lululemon for greenwashing, a term used to describe when companies, governments or individuals mislead others on their environmental practise or environmental benefits.

WATCH | CBC Kids News explains greenwashing: 

Greenwashing: the secret that some brands don’t want you to know | CBC Kids News

Do you ever see companies using terms like “sustainable” or “eco-friendly?” It could be a clue that they are doing something called greenwashing.

A spokesperson for Lululemon previously told CBC News the company is focused on helping create an industry that is “more sustainable and addresses the serious impacts of climate change.”

The company is committed to its decarbonization plan, the spokesperson added, with the aim of meeting its 2030 climate targets and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

“We recognize that the majority of impact comes from emissions within the broader supply chain,” the spokesperson wrote, adding that the company reported on its own emissions in the 2022 annual report.

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