Australia’s consumer watchdog is appealing against a Federal Court decision to dismiss its case against Woolworths over environmental claims made by the retail giant’s range of ‘eco’ picnic products.

Key points:

  • The ACCC will argue the court should consider the future of the products
  • Woolworths said the Federal Court decision made it clear its products did break down
  • Researcher Kim Borg said there was broad consumer confusion surrounding eco-friendly items

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) alleged Woolworths had misled customers with its W Select Eco picnic products, which are billed as “biodegradable and compostable” crockery and cutlery.

The court dismissed its claim on technical grounds, saying the question of compostability would only be decided in the future.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims said if the picnic items went to landfill they may not biodegrade, so the ACCC would argue the marketing was a prediction about what would happen to the products in future.

The ACCC is correct here.  That is very misleading by the supermarket.   Items that are labeled as compostable require a special facility for them to biodegrade.  If they go elsewhere they will not biodegrade in a manner that consumer imagines they will do.  So to sell an item and put biodegradable on it with out specifying where it has to go to biodegrade is green washing the public.