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The ACCC has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against Clorox Australia, the manufacturer of GLAD-branded kitchen and garbage bags, for allegedly making false or misleading representations that certain kitchen and garbage bags were partly made of recycled ‘ocean plastic’, in breach of the Australian Consumer Law.

The ACCC alleges that Clorox represented that its GLAD Kitchen Tidy Bags and Garbage Bags were comprised of 50 per cent recycled ‘ocean plastic’ collected from an ocean or sea, when that was not the case.

The ACCC alleges that these GLAD kitchen and garbage bags were instead partly made from plastic that was collected from communities in Indonesia up to 50 kilometres from a shoreline, and not from the ocean or sea.

“We allege that the headline 'ocean plastic' statements and wave imagery on the GLAD bag packaging, and the use of blue coloured bags, created the impression that these GLAD bags were made from plastic waste collected from the ocean or sea, when this was not the case,” ACCC chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said.

“We are concerned that, by its alleged conduct, Clorox deprived consumers of the opportunity to make informed purchasing decisions, and may have put other businesses making genuine environmental claims at an unfair disadvantage.”

“This action reflects our enforcement priority to take action against businesses making false or misleading environmental claims. Increasingly consumers choose the products they buy based on their environmental impact, and in doing so they must be able to rely on the environmental claims made by businesses being accurate,” Cass-Gottlieb said.

Both of these products were reportedly withdrawn from supply to retailers from July 2023.

Kitchen Tidy Bags
Between June 2021 and about 13 November 2022, the packaging of Clorox’s small, medium and large Kitchen Tidy Bags said ‘50% Ocean Plastic Recycled Bags’, and ‘Made using 50% Ocean Plastic*’.

The back of the packaging carried two qualifying statements in small font stating:

‘These bags are made from 50% ocean recycled plastic, and have the trusted strength of Glad® to hold household waste on its way to landfill. Recycling ocean bound plastic reduces plastic pollution before it enters the ocean, helping to reduce pollution in waterways, save marine life and put an end to irresponsible waste.’

‘*Made using 50% ocean bound plastic that is collected from communities with no formal waste management system within 50 km of the shore line.’

Between 6 March 2022 and 13 November 2022, Clorox updated the packaging to include the statement ‘Made using 50% Ocean Bound Plastic*’ on the front of the packaging.

The statements in small font on the back of Kitchen Tidy Bags’ packaging were also updated as follows (changes in bold):

‘These bags are made from 50% ocean bound recycled plastic, and have the trusted strength of Glad® to hold household waste on its way to landfill. Recycling ocean bound plastic reduces plastic pollution before it enters the ocean, helping to reduce pollution in waterways, making the seas safer for marine life, and helping to put an end to irresponsible waste.’

‘*Made using 50% ocean bound recycled plastic that is collected from communities with no formal waste management system within 50 km of the shore line.’

Garbage Bags
Between about May 2022 and July 2023, the packaging of its large and extra-large Garbage Bags stated ‘50% Ocean Plastic Recycled Garbage Bags’, and ‘Made using 50% Ocean Bound Plastic*’.

The back of the packaging carried two qualifying statements in small font stating:

‘These strong garbage bags are made from 50% ocean bound recycled plastic, and have the trusted strength of Glad® to hold waste on its way to landfill. Recycling ocean bound plastic reduces plastic pollution before it enters the ocean, helping to reduce pollution in waterways, making the seas safer for marine life, and helping to put an end to irresponsible waste.’

‘*Made using 50% ocean bound recycled plastic that is collected from communities with no formal waste management system within 50 km of the shore line.’

The ACCC is seeking declarations, penalties, injunctions, an order to implement a compliance program, corrective notices, costs and other orders.

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