Inquiry launched into Lululemon over ‘greenwashing’ allegations

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Canada’s Competition Bureau has launched an inquiry into Vancouver-based Lululemon following a complaint from members of an environmental group.


Stand.earth had asked the bureau to investigate the athletic-wear giant in February, alleging Lululemon is misleading customers about its climate impacts.


The group issued a statement early this year saying Lululemon has been using the slogan “Be Planet” as part of its “impact agenda” released in 2020, but the company’s own reports reveal a doubling of greenhouse-gas emissions since then.


A spokeswoman for the Competition Bureau confirmed Monday that it has launched an investigation into “alleged deceptive marketing practices.”


The bureau says there is no conclusion of wrongdoing at this time. 


No one from Lululemon was immediately available to comment, although a previous statement in February said the company is “focused on helping to create a garment industry that is more sustainable and addresses the serious impacts of climate change.”


Lululemon’s 2022 impact report says its products and actions help lead the industry “toward a climate-stable future where nature and people thrive.”


The report says the company aims to meet a series of climate action targets by 2030, including a 60-per-cent reduction in emissions intensity for “Scope 3” operations, which encompass the making and shipping of clothing globally.


But Lululemon’s reports, cited by Stand.earth, show total emissions for that category rose to nearly 1.7 million tonnes, up from about 830,000 tonnes in 2020.


Those “Scope 3” activities represent 99.7 per cent of the company’s total carbon footprint, the 2022 report says.


Lululemon said earlier this year that its “decarbonization plan,” aims to help it become a “net-zero company” by 2050 with a 90-per-cent reduction in emissions.


Luluelmon has so far met its goals to power its own facilities with renewable electricity while cutting those emissions by 60 per cent, it said.


The company recognizes that the majority of its carbon footprint comes from emissions “within the broader supply chain,” the statement said. 


Lululemon has contributed $10 million to a fund aimed at accelerating climate action in the global apparel industry, it added.


A statement from Rachel Kitchin, senior corporate climate campaigner at Stand.earth, notes that Lululemon is providing Team Canada’s kit for the upcoming Paris Olympics and Paralympics, representing the country on the world stage.


“Our athletes deserve to be at their absolute best in a brand that aligns with their values as Canadians, and not misled by deceptive and greenwashing marketing.”


This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 6, 2024.

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