Kimberly-Clark to pay penalty for false country of origin claims

Image Credit: Australian Competition & Consumer Commission

Hygiene products manufacturer Kimberly-Clark has been ordered to pay $200,000 for misleading consumers to believe that its Kleenex Cottonelle ‘flushable cleansing cloths’ were made in Australia, when they were in fact made in Germany, South Korea or the UK.

In mid-2019, the Federal Court had found that Kimberly-Clark made false or misleading representations that the products were Australian-made after the company admitted this during the court case.

The false claims were made on the product website between 28 October 2015 and 24 February 2016, while the product packaging contained the correct information about where the wipes were manufactured.

“We know many Australian consumers place a premium on goods that are Australian made,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said, regarding the Federal Court’s ruling.

“This penalty should remind businesses of their responsibilities to ensure that representations on their website or packaging about the country of origin are accurate, so that consumers can make informed purchasing decisions.”

The same case saw the Court dismiss the major aspect of the ACCC’s case about whether the wipes were flushable, finding the company had not made false and misleading claims about the flushabilty of the wipes.

The case related to a type of wipes sold by Kimberly-Clark between May 2013 and May 2016, which have since been discontinued and replaced with a different range of flushable wipes.