Yesterday, the Federal Court of Australia ruled plastic bag company NuPak Australia has engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct related to environmental marketing claims for Goody-brand “degradable” bags.
The court heard the company had claimed its bags were biodegradable and compostable when this was not the case. The court was told its bags also contained a heavy metal in amounts that exceeded the maximum concentration under Australian standards.
NuPak has been ordered to publish corrective notices on its website, send a letter to each customer and contribute $10,000 towards the costs of the ACCC over the proceedings.
Following legal action by the Australia Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Nupak Australia is Pty Ltd (‘Nupak’) has consented to a declaration being made by the Federal Court of Australia that it contravened sections 52 and 53 of the Trade Practices Act 1974 (the TPA) by making false representations and engaging in misleading or deceptive conduct.
As part of the court action, Nupak has consented to a Court declaration that ‘Goody’ brand plastic bags supplied by Nupak did not biodegrade or disintegrate and contained a toxic or hazardous substance, and therefore were not complaint with the Australian Standard.
Nupak has given an undertaking to the Court to refrain from representing that ‘Goody’ brand plastics bags are biodegradable, compostable or comply with the Australia Standard unless first receiving independent scientific testing that supports the claim.
Nupak has consented to orders that it publish corrective notices in The Advertiser (a daily newspaper from Adelaide, Australia) and also to an order to implement a Trade Practices Compliance and Education Training Program regarding its responsibilities and obligations under Australian law.
Nupak has paid a contribution towards the ACCC’s costs of instituting the proceedings.
In a written statement, the Biodegradable Products Institute commented:
“We are glad to see that manufacturer’s unsupported claims are recognized as misleading. We hope to see more of this in the future, in response to the growing number of these claims around the globe.