Peters & Peters

Ad Standards finds Pinnacle disposable coffee cup adverts misleading

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Key facts:

In August 2021, BioPak Pty Ltd complained to Ad Standards in relation to claims made by Pinnacle International Wholesalers Pty Ltd t/a Pinnacle Packaging that its disposable coffee cups were plastic-free, fully recyclable, and compostable.

Following a full assessment of the advertising material and submissions provided by Pinnacle and BioPak, the Ad Standards Industry Jury found that Pinnacle had breached the Code of Ethics by making representations about its products on its website and in its brochure which created an overall impression that was misleading or deceptive or likely to mislead or deceive and which implied a benefit to the environment which the products did not have.

In particular, the Industry Jury found that Pinnacle’s plastic-free claims were made in very broad terms and were not qualified in any way. The Jury found that the claims went beyond simply displaying the Plastic Free Certification Mark endorsed by Control Union and that an average consumer would therefore be entitled to expect that the products in question did not contain plastic in any form. In fact, the coating of the disposable coffee cups was a plastic or plastic-based substance. As a result, the Industry Jury found that there was no reasonable basis for the advertiser making the plastic-free claims.

As to Pinnacle’s recyclability and compostability claims, the Industry Jury found that it was a fundamental requirement that if a product is represented in absolute terms as being a fully recyclable product or 100% recyclable, it should be capable of being recycled through standard kerbside recycling facilities in Australia. As Pinnacle’s disposable coffee cups could not be recycled in this manner, the Industry Jury found that the claims that these cups were recyclable were misleading. In addition, Pinnacle was unable to substantiate its claims that the cups were compostable.

In February 2022, Pinnacle made a statement indicating that the Industry Jury had erred in its findings but that, notwithstanding this, and without admitting it had contravened any relevant legislation or code, Pinnacle would modify its advertising material to ensure it could adequately substantiate its claims.

Source(s):

Ad Standards press release and case report

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