Environmental group accuses Henkel of consumer fraud / Definitions of post-industrial and post-consumer recyclate disputed
The reputation of German environmental group Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH, Berlin; in the industry can be regarded at least as controversial. However, the impact of the association’s activities should not be underestimated – as was made clear by the introduction of bans on diesel vehicles in German cities. The plastics industry cannot afford to ignore the fact that the environmental group now appears to be turning its attention to the issue of recycled plastics in packaging and products.

Cause for dispute – can post-industrial recyclate be equated with post-consumer recyclate? (Photo: Henkel)
DUH is currently tackling consumer goods group Henkel (Düsseldorf / Germany; for alleged consumer fraud. A small holder supplied by Henkel for toilet deodoriser blocks was advertised as being produced with 100% recycled plastics – however, industrial production scrap was used, not “recycled material from used packaging or products.” DUH claims production scrap should be rated as virgin material.

“Consumers expect recycled material to be produced from the packaging they put in their recyclable waste collection bags, which is then used to manufacture new goods,” the Berlin-based group maintains. “If this is the impression given when packaging is sold but does not correspond to the true situation, we will take legal steps to stop it,” says DUH. Post-industrial material should not be equated with post-consumer material.

The DUH action with its highly visible impact was preceded by a dispute between Henkel competitor Werner & Mertz (Mainz / Germany;, a company strongly committed to recycling, and the Düsseldorf-based group in spring 2019. The issue at stake was that the small holder advertised by Henkel does not have the typical grey colour of recycled post-consumer material.

The holder is, indeed, made of post-industrial recycled material. According to a statement issued by Henkel, post-industrial recyclate is defined as recycled material in DIN EN ISO 14021. The group claims the designation is certainly justified in this case, since the material originates exclusively from other sectors of industry, as prescribed.

Henkel has withdrawn the advertising and is also stressing the fact that 99% of the recycled material it uses in consumer goods comes from post-consumer waste. This is doubtless a wise decision, given that expert definitions do not always tally with the general understanding of the lay majority.
17.07.2019 [242942-0]
Published on 17.07.2019
Kunststoffrecycling: DUH wirft Henkel Verbrauchertäuschung vorGerman version of this article...

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