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We'd say we hate to say we told you so, but this time we are delighted to say it.

Publication: 
Nigel Morris-Co...
chiefofficersnet

Oh, ACCC, ACCC, ACCC. Have the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission not learned that success is expected and we are remembered by our failures?

And this failure is the result of one bad decision after another.

We've written about this before:

1. When we thought it was funny: Of flushable wipes and fatbergs."

2. When we knew it was getting stupid: Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to appeal flushable wipes case

And now, the The Full Federal Court has dismissed an appeal over the Flushable Wipes case.

A statement by ACCC today shows that it still doesn't get a handle on just how stupid its case was.

"The ACCC alleged that by labelling these products as “flushable”, consumers would believe the Kleenex wipes products had similar characteristics to toilet paper and would break up or disintegrate in a similar timeframe.

The ACCC relied on evidence from Australian water authorities that face significant problems when non-suitable products are flushed down the toilet as they contribute to blockages in household and municipal sewerage systems,
known as “fatbergs”.

“We brought these proceedings because we were concerned that consumers were being misled about the very nature of the product they were buying, and because of increasing problems reported by Australian water authorities as a result of non-suitable products like wipes being flushed down the toilet.”

The Court of Appeal followed the reasoning of the Trial Judge which I thought was unwieldy and that there is perfectly good common sense reasons to toss the case on the fire fuelled by cases that are a waste of everyone's time and money. The Courts have decided that the ACCC should lose because it can't prove that any particular system blockage was caused by the wipes produced by Kimberley Clark and described as "flushable."

And still the ACCC won't accept it's had a drubbing.

We are pleased that our court action has brought attention to this issue, and has made consumers aware that flushing wipes can cause significant blockages to plumbing and sewerage systems, damage to equipment and
environmental harm and imposes significant cost of removing fatbergs on water authorities.

In its judgment, the Full Federal Court recognised this concern, noting that “Blockages and fatbergs pose what has become an increasing problem for households and municipal waste water authorities. One response would be to
introduce legislation or standards governing the characteristics of what can and what cannot be marketed or sold as ‘flushable’.”

But the Court made no attempt to define it - which it could have done, at least obiter, which would have had a cooling effect on the use of the term in marketing because large companies aren't stupid and they know what judges say is persuasive.

But the Court's own position is unduly complex. The fact is that the word "flushable" has an ordinary and natural meaning and it doesn't mean that it doesn't clog up the pipes.

The ACCC's money would have been far better spent on a campaign educating the public which, in Australia, seems willing to take up arms in support of any eco-social cause and, if invited to do so, would - in significant number - boycott the product until the wording was changed.

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