Global cosmetics giant Sephora has been given a formal warning after staff swept confetti into Auckland's stormwater drains during its Queen St opening.

The French company came under fire during its July 20 opening when staff were filmed sweeping what it said was "bio-degradable, water soluble and plant based" confetti into stormwater drains.

A spokeswoman said they'd worked with Auckland Council "for its approved event permit to ensure the confetti was safe for the environment".

At the time Mayor Phil Goff called it "unacceptable waste" dumping, and said it was "totally untrue" the council would have granted permission for such an activity.


Auckland Council regulatory compliance manager Steve Pearce said in concluding their investigation they had given Sephora and its event contractor Darkhorse, the permit holder, a formal warning for discharging confetti into stormwater drains.

Staff sweeping confetti into drains on Queen St during the Sephora opening. Photo / Matthew Tukaki
Staff sweeping confetti into drains on Queen St during the Sephora opening. Photo / Matthew Tukaki

"While the company was permitted to use confetti canons, it was not permitted to sweep the confetti into stormwater drains," Pearce said

"The discharge of any contaminant to the public stormwater system is a breach of the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA).

Given it was their first offence no further enforcement action would be taken against Darkhorse or Sephora, Pearce said. As was council practice, they would provide advice and information in the first instance to try and achieve compliance.

"However the formal warning will be taken into account, should either party breach the RMA again," Pearce said.

"The council will be closely monitoring future event permit applications from Darkhorse to ensure that all events are operated in a safe and effective manner with regard to waste management and event management."

New Zealand Māori Council executive director Matthew Tukaki, who filmed the actions, said he saw Sephora staff sweeping paper confetti into drains, along with taking paper testers, used for fragrances.

Mayor Phil Goff tweeted at the time: "Unacceptable for anyone, particularly a major retailer, to be polluting our waterways. Totally untrue that the council granted permission for such behaviour – waste must be collected and disposed of responsibly."


Darkhorse has been approached for comment.