Hamish Fletcher

Business reporter for the NZ Herald

Rubbish bag maker fined $60k over environmental claims

File photo / Thinkstock
File photo / Thinkstock

A rubbish bag maker has been fined $60,000 for misleading environmental claims, says the Commerce Commission.

Eco-Pal, which makes plastic rubbish bags, has been sentenced in the Auckland District Court for claims it made that breached the Fair Trading Act (FTA), the Commerce Commission said in a statement.

The company was found guilty of 15 breaches of the FTA for "giving the impression of environmental friendliness" and that its rubbish bags were oxo-biodegradable or biodegradable, the regulator said.

"Eco-Pal's marketing gave the impression that its products would degrade over a reasonably short time, including when disposed of in a landfill, and were suitable for domestic composting. However the claims were liable to mislead as, while it is technically true that oxo-biodegradable plastic bags can break down in the right conditions, this will not occur within a short timeframe and in a landfill it has a minimal chance of occurring at all," the commission said.

In sentencing Eco-Pal today, Judge Lawrence Hinton said:

"There is a sure appetite for environmentally friendly products, especially those that have an everyday or frequent use. There are very good policy reasons to penalise traders who disappoint customers and take economic advantage of competitors. Well intentioned shoppers were prejudiced on a reasonably substantial scale," the judge said.

The commission said Eco-Pal was the second company to be pulled for this type of behaviour in recent months.

In August, Pacrite Industries was fined $30,000 in relation to environmental claims about rubbish bags.

"Businesses must ensure that consumers are able to rely on environmental claims and are not misled by inaccurate claims," said Commerce Commission consumer manager Stuart Wallace.

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a4 at 02 Oct 2014 10:16:16 Processing Time: 881ms