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Big W hits back at Boomerang Alliance accusation

In what environmental watchdog group the Boomerang Alliance has called a “shocking exercise of corporate irresponsibility”, BIG W has continued to sell what the Alliance alleges are banned single-use plastics in Queensland. Boomerang has accused the giant retailer of green-washing “previous one-off items as ‘’reusable’’, when the clear intent of the law is to remove them from supermarket shelves – to be replaced with genuinely reusable items,” said Boomerang Alliance campaign manager Tony Hutcheon.

‘’The retailer has simply stuck a new label on these products, for example, throw-away picnic plates, to rebrand as dishwasher-safe, in an effort to avoid the law. These products will be seen by most consumers as disposable items and end up as litter or waste in bins and landfills after a single use. This is precisely the outcome the Queensland law seeks to avoid,’’ said Hutcheon.

‘’At a time when the State Government is requiring all retailers, suppliers, food outlets and community organisations to stop providing these plastic items – and our research shows many are doing just that –  BIG W is continuing to damage the environment from plastic pollution.’’

‘’We call on BIG W to immediately withdraw these items from sale and donate any profits to community groups involved in litter clean ups.’’

‘’The BIG W range of outdoor picnicware includes plastic knives, forks and spoons, bowls and plates are all banned in Queensland unless they are certified compostable or are genuinely reusable. If they are allowed to get away with their behaviour, this will encourage other retailers to do the same.’’

‘’Governments and responsible retailers need to call this out and adopt very clear rules about what is genuinely reusable, to close out any capacity to continue this greenwashing,” Hutcheon said.

However, talking to Inside Waste, a Big W spokesperson was having none of it.

“To help protect the environment and reduce waste, earlier this year we proactively removed all single-use plastic cutlery, bowls and plates from our range nationally,” the spokesperson said. “All bowls, plates and cutlery in the BIG W range are compliant to the new legislation and have undergone rigorous and independent testing to ensure it can be used again and again. We’re committed to helping our customers live and shop more sustainably and will continue to make improvements across our range to reduce waste and increase reuse and recycling.”

They stated that:

  • BIG W’s multi use plastic tableware has been designed to last at least 95 cycles in the dishwasher.

  • This year, BIG W has removed all single use plastic tableware products and 44 lines from its range, equivalent to over 500,000 less products sold across our stores each year.

  • The Queensland ban applies to single use plastics. In line with the testing undertaken and the labelling across BIG W’s partyware range, all the thicker plastic cutlery, bowls and plates that remain are designed to be reused.