Sukin skincare products falsely claimed they were certified carbon neutral and failed to pay for carbon offsets, a leading climate change accreditation firm has said.
The Carbon Reduction Institute has accused BWX and subsidiary Sukin Australia of misleading Australian consumers by using its carbon neutral logos on their products without being granted the proper certification.
In the lawsuit, filed in the Federal Court on November 10, CRI is seeking damages and compensation, claiming it has not been paid for carbon offsets it would have received if the Sukin products had been certified.
CRI runs the NoCO2 Carbon Neutral Program and allows businesses, organisations and government agencies to use its carbon neutral or low carbon logos if certain conditions are met.
From June 19, 2015 to June 30, 2018, Sukin agreed that it would offset the greenhouse gas emissions created through the manufacturing and distribution of its products by paying CRI.
According to the lawsuit, BWX operations director Vince Joy terminated the contract with CRI via email in June 2018, saying that Sukin wanted to increase the firm's "direct involvement in relevant environmental and other projects".
In August 2018, CRI requested Sukin immediately withdraw all references to the climate change firm or its logos from products and websites.
Despite this, CRI alleges its logos remained on skincare products such as aloe vera gel, facial masques, and body wash seen at pharmacies in Warners Bay and Mt Hutton, NSW and Ringwood, Victoria this year.
As well as misleading or deceiving consumers, BMX and Sukin are also accused of breaching the terms of its contract with CRI by using the logos without permission.
"As a consequence of each of Sukin's breaches of the certification contract ... CRI has suffered loss and damage," CRI wrote.
The accreditation firm is also seeking court orders forcing Sukin to recall any illegal products as well as pay legal costs spent on the case.
A BWX spokesperson confirmed the firm had received the lawsuit and would defend it.
"Based on the information presently available to the company about those claims, the company does not consider the litigation to be material in nature," they said.