'Shocking irresponsibility': Big W slammed over tiny detail on plates

Big W has been accused of "greenwashing" after labelling packets of party plates as “reusable" and “dishwasher safe”.

Branding the move as a “shocking exercise of corporate irresponsibility”, Boomerang Alliance accused the retailer of using the tiny stickers to circumvent a ban on single use plates and cutlery in Queensland.

The charity has been engaged by the government to undertake awareness training, to help the community comply with the single-use plastics ban which began on September 1.

Big W plastic plates. Source: Supplied
Big W say their plastic plates comply with Queensland's single-use plastic ban. Source: Supplied

Big W said the items which remain on shelves are compliant with the new legislation, with the range being thicker than banned single-use products.

The retailer has added advice to packaging of bowls which says they can withstand 10 cycles in a dishwasher, and maintain some products have been designed to withstand 95 washes.

Despite this, Toby Hutcheon from Boomerang Alliance accused Big W of “greenwashing”.

He photographed the plastic items for sale in Big W’s central Brisbane store on September 22, saying that the products will be viewed by “most consumers as disposable items”.

Diver looks at pieces of plastic floating in the ocean. Source: Getty Images
Plastic pollution is continuing to choke the world's oceans. Source: Getty Images

“This is precisely the outcome the Queensland law seeks to avoid,” he said.

“At a time when the State Government is requiring all retailers, suppliers, food outlets and community organisations to stop providing these plastic items... Big W is continuing to damage the environment with plastic pollution.”

Horrifying facts about plastic you probably don’t want to know

  • Up to 1 million sea creatures are killed by plastic every year.

  • Our oceans are already estimated to contain over 1 trillion pieces of plastic.

  • Around the world, more than 1 million plastic bottles are purchased every minute.

  • Ninety-five per cent of plastic packaging is used only once.

Call to 'immediately remove' plastic tableware from shelves

Queensland’s government say that their single-use plastic ban has “strong support” from consumers, retailers and industry.

Straws, stirrers, plates, bowls and cutlery are all prohibited, along with polystyrene takeaway food containers and cups.

Customers walk out of Big W store. Source: AAP
Big W has been accused of "greenwashing" by Boomerang Alliance. Source: AAP

After the ban was announced, Big W removed 44 lines from its plastic tableware range in Queensland, which is the equivalent to 500,000 less products sold a year.

“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,” a company spokesperson said in a statement.

“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.”

Boomerang Alliance has called on the retailer to "immediately withdraw" the items from the shelves, and donate any profits made from their sale to community groups involved in litter removal.

Easy steps you can take to help save the planet

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