Misleading green claim on baby wipes leads to recall
19 December 2019
A major brand of baby wipes that claimed to be “100% biodegradable” is being recalled after a Consumer NZ test found the claim was misleading.
Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin said Silk Ultimate Pure & Natural Baby Wipes claimed to be made from “100% vegetable fibre” and “100% biodegradable” but its testing found this wasn’t the case.
“We tested the baby wipes and discovered they were 83% rayon and 17% polyester. Polyester is made from plastic and isn’t going to biodegrade any time soon,” Ms Chetwin said.
Global Products, which imports the wipes, has agreed to withdraw the product as a result of Consumer NZ’s testing.
Ms Chetwin said consumers paid a premium for the wipes. A pack of 72 wipes cost $5, about $2 to $3 more than a pack of standard baby wipes.
“Companies are increasingly trying to cash in on consumer concern for the environment by dressing up their products as ‘greener’ choices. However, unless traders can substantiate their green claims, they risk breaching the Fair Trading Act,” she said.
Ms Chetwin said when her organisation began investigating the wipes, it asked Global Products for evidence backing up its biodegradability claim. The company refused to provide information on what the wipes were made from, stating it was confidential.
“It was only after we tested the product and provided the results to Global Products that it took action and withdrew the wipes”.
Ms Chetwin advised shoppers to be wary of green claims not back by sound evidence.
“By themselves, biodegradability claims are meaningless. Unless the company can tell you what’s in the product and whether it’s been tested against a reputable standard, a biodegradability claim isn’t helpful.”
Consumers who purchased Silk Ultimate Pure & Natural Baby Wipes in the expectation they were getting a product that was “100% biodegradable” were entitled to a refund, Ms Chetwin said.