The ACCC is proposing to reject an application for four certification trademarks for certain biodegradable plastics by OxoPak Pty Ltd.
OxoPak is seeking to register the marks as part of its certification scheme for plastic bags and other packaging materials that meet certain specified standards of oxo-biodegradability.
The ACCC has concerns that the marks may give consumers the impression that the plastic product complies with certification standards relating to food safety, marine life safety, environmental sustainability and waste reduction.
“We accept that in the right conditions oxo-biodegradable plastics can break down faster than other plastics, but our initial assessment is that these trademarks make representations that go beyond this and may mislead consumers,” ACCC Deputy Chair Mick Keogh said.
“The OxoPak marks may give consumers the impression that certified plastic products meet particular food safety standards, or have no harmful impact on marine life and the environment, but these factors are not assessed as part of the certification process, which only deals with oxo-biodegradability.”
“Businesses applying for approval of certification trademarks must ensure that the certification standards are consistent with what the marks indicate to consumers,” Mr Keogh said.
“Businesses should also ensure that the marks are not misleading, confusing or ambiguous.”
The ACCC invites further comments and submissions before it will proceed to a final assessment of the applications in early 2019.
The certification trademarks are illustrated below.
OxoPak states that its proposed certification trademarks are intended to indicate that the product bearing the marks meets ‘higher standards of degradability, biodegradability, and eco-toxicity than other products within the same product category’.
The ACCC has a role in assessing and approving rules for the use of a CTM. As part of its assessment, the ACCC examines the rules to ensure they are not to the detriment of the public, or likely to raise any concerns relating to competition, unconscionable conduct, unfair practices, product safety and/or product information.
The ACCC conducted a public consultation of the marks to inform its initial assessment. The ACCC received submissions from OxoPak, Planet Ark and the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation, Plastic Free July Foundation, Australian Bioplastics Association Incorporated, and Good Environmental Choice Australia.
All submissions received are available on the ACCC’s online consultation hub. The proposed certification trademark rules, and a copy of the ACCC’s initial assessment are also available via the consultation hub.
Interested persons have one month from the time the ACCC’s initial assessment is published by IP Australia to provide written or oral submissions, or seek a formal conference, before the ACCC makes its final assessment.