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CHOICE response to “flushable wipes” ACCC case

Quotes attributable to Julia Steward, CHOICE Consumer Law Expert.

History/context of decision:

The ACCC instituted proceedings in the Federal Court in December 2016 against Kimberly-Clark Australia Pty Ltd alleging false or misleading representations in relation to 'flushable' wipes marketed and supplied in Australia. The court case came about after CHOICE issued a Shonky Award for the products for false flushable claims. 

CHOICE Shonkys 2015:

https://www.choice.com.au/shonky-awards/hall-of-shame/shonkys-2015/kleenex-flushable-wipes

CHOICE 2016 report: https://www.choice.com.au/health-and-body/beauty-and-personal-care/skin-care-and-cosmetics/articles/flushable-wipes

CHOICE 2019 report:

https://www.choice.com.au/health-and-body/beauty-and-personal-care/skin-care-and-cosmetics/articles/flushable-wipes-kimberly-clark-court-ruling

Video of CHOICE expert Chris Barnes explaining issues with flushable wipes:

https://shwca.se/FlushJune2020

Timeline of case:

https://infogram.com/flushable-wipes-timeline-1ho16vdgge9v6nq

Quotes attributable to Julia Steward, CHOICE Consumer Law Expert:

"The ACCC were right to fight this - regulators need to take on the hard battles and they won't win every time, but we're glad they took up the fight. Kimberly-Clark have won on legal technicalities, but that doesn't change the fact that this is wrong. Kimberley Clark might have won this case but these wipes still aren't flushable. Do not flush these wipes."

"In the testing we conducted in 2015, there was no sign of these products truly breaking up. The so-called 'flushable' wipes held together in our tests for hours while ordinary toilet paper broke down and dissolved in a few minutes."

"Kleenex claimed that its 'flushable' wipes meet guidelines for flushability but these guidelines were written by industry, for industry. This self-regulation is useless, and shouldn't let companies get away with misleading people."

"The industry guidelines are obviously not a good standard to follow. This ruling should not be an excuse to mislead and rip off Australians. We expect companies to be responsible for their products rather than play legal claims to evade responsibility."

CHOICE Media Contact: Katelyn Cameron, 0430 172 669, media@choice.com.au

Video and images available for media use on Dropbox: https://shwca.se/FlushJune2020