Before this week, shoppers had the ability to go on H&M's website and check the environmental impact of the clothing they wanted to buy, as all of the garments are rated by the Higg Materials Sustainability Index, which is essentially a tool that was launched last year by a global non-profit alliance, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition.
For example, you could see that a cotton shirt was described as using "50% less water than conventional materials" or that the "global warming impact was 10% less than conventional materials".
However, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition has just announced that it is placing a pause on its product-labeling tool after the Norwegian Consumer Authority (NCA) warned H&M Group two weeks ago against using the Higg index to support its environmental claims.
Additionally, if they were to continue such marketing by the first of September, it would risk economic sanctions.
Norway's consumer watchdog didn't investigate all of H&M's claims, but they did with a Norwegian outdoor brand, Norrøna (who also used the Higg index on its website). Ultimately concluding that the majority of the data was actually misleading.
Fashion sustainability activists are overjoyed after SAC's announcement, as they've been complaining about the overall methodologies, describing it as greenwashing.