A PYMNTS Company

Canadian Watchdog Launches Inquiry into Lululemon’s Greenwashing Practices

 |  May 6, 2024

The Competition Bureau of Canada has initiated an inquiry into Lululemon Athletica Inc. following a complaint by environmental nonprofit Stand.earth accusing the yoga apparel giant of misleading consumers with its environmental claims.

Stand.earth, known for its advocacy on environmental issues, filed a complaint with the Competition Bureau alleging that Lululemon engages in “greenwashing” – a practice where companies exaggerate or misrepresent their environmental initiatives to appear more eco-friendly than they are.

Todd Paglia, Executive Director of Stand.earth, expressed satisfaction with the Competition Bureau’s decision, stating, “Stand.earth’s complaint to the Competition Bureau has been accepted and has set off an official inquiry into Lululemon’s anti-competitive greenwashing practices.”

The complaint contends that Lululemon’s marketing claims, particularly its assertion to “Be Planet,” are inconsistent with its environmental impact. Paglia highlighted Lululemon’s purported increase in emissions since adopting its “Be Planet” slogan in 2020, asserting that the company’s emissions have surged by 100 percent during this period.

In response to the inquiry, Josephine Palumbo, Deputy Commissioner of Competition for the Competition Bureau, wrote to Stand.earth acknowledging the commencement of an inquiry to investigate allegations that Lululemon may have violated the Competition Act by making false, misleading, and unsubstantiated representations regarding its environmental practices.

Lululemon, founded by Chip Wilson and headquartered in Vancouver, has defended its environmental initiatives, citing achievements such as 100 percent renewable electricity and a 60 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in its facilities. The company has also outlined its decarbonization plan, aiming to become a net-zero company by 2050.

A spokesperson for Lululemon emphasized the complexities of addressing emissions within its supply chain and expressed the company’s commitment to collaboration, investment, and transparency in tackling climate issues.

However, Stand.earth maintains that Lululemon’s reliance on fossil fuels and petrochemical-based products contradicts its environmental claims. The organization alleges that over 60 percent of Lululemon’s products are petrochemical-based, contributing to climate pollution and environmental degradation.

Rachel Kitchin, Senior Corporate Climate Campaigner at Stand.earth, raised concerns about Lululemon’s role as the official kit provider for Team Canada at the upcoming Olympics and Paralympics in Paris. Kitchin emphasized the importance of aligning with Canadian values and cautioned against deceptive marketing tactics that could mislead consumers and athletes.

Source: Sourcing Journal