Woolworths vindicated in biodegradability consumer suit


In Australia, supermarket chain Woolworths has won a lawsuit alleging its compostability claims for its corn starch- and bagasse-based picnic ware were misleading.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission had challenged Woolworths advertisements that its biodegradable plates and cutlery would biodegradable into compost within two years.

ACCC asserted that only an industrial composter could achieve such a result, although the judge did not find merit in the accusation.

“I fail to see why that [two years is] an unreasonable period of time for anyone but an eager home composter,” Justice Debra Mortimer said in her decision. “The use of the phrase ‘biodegradable and compostable’ on the labelling does not convey anything about how long the products might take to degrade, or to turn into compost. It is unrealistic to assume consumers who were purchasing these products would have been turning their minds to such matters.”