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18 October 2021

‘Plastic’ carpet claims heading to court

Carpet manufacturer Godfrey Hirst challenges Bremworth over potentially misleading advertising claims.

Carpet manufacturer Bremworth’s latest advertising campaign claims: “The average Kiwi home with synthetic carpet is similar to having 22,000 plastic bags on the floor by weight.”

Rival manufacturer – of both wool and synthetic carpets – Godfrey Hirst alleges this is a misleading claim under the Fair Trading Act (FTA). It claims the environmental impact of synthetic carpet in the home is less than the environmental impact of 22,000 plastic bags. It also claims synthetic carpet doesn’t have a significant, negative impact on the environment.

In July 2020, Bremworth announced it was ditching synthetic fibres and going wool-only for its carpets. In the transition to wool, it dropped the “Cavalier” from its former name Cavalier Bremworth, the carpet operation of the Cavalier Corporation.

By transitioning to wool, Bremworth claims “embracing nature can make a world of difference to the wellbeing of people and the planet”.

Godfrey Hirst alleges this statement is also misleading. It argues wool carpet is not better or safer for the environment than synthetic. It also alleges that, in switching from synthetic to wool carpet, Bremworth isn’t “materially reducing its environmental impact”.

Godfrey Hirst also alleges that Bremworth’s claims create the impression that synthetic carpets shed microplastics. It argues this is misleading because microplastics are not shed under normal use.

This is the latest legal stoush between the two companies.

In 2013, Godfrey Hirst took Cavalier Bremworth to court over warranty claims made in its advertising of a new synthetic carpet range. Cavalier Bremworth was found to have breached the FTA because of two misleading warranty statements on its website and instore marketing.

This latest litigation is expected to be heard in the High Court next year.

We’ll keep you posted on the result.

Member comments

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Michelle W.
02 Nov 2021
Caution regarding disposing of wool carpet

No doubt wool carpet has many advantages - I use it myself. However be cautious in presuming that this 'natural' product is easily disposed. It has substantial components that are not wool, e.g. the heavy woven backing, the glues, the edging binders. These are not separable, recyclable or readily composted. Even the wool fibres themselves are environmentally tough as old boots and create substantial landfill burden. NZ wool research orgs WRONZ, Canesis and AgResearch have been studying efficient carpet disposal for yonks. It's not an easy problem to solve.

Anna G.
26 Oct 2021
Adding the carpet to compost

I've always had wool carpets because the benefits long outweigh those of synthetic. The fact that it is a fire retardant is a big plus. Also, when you finally do replace it, you can chuck it into the garden to rot. Wool carpet that's past its best is great at stopping the weeds, encouraging worms and building good soil. (The same goes for all your woolly jumpers.)

James C.
24 Oct 2021
Had both - Given me Wool any day

I recarpeted a previous house with synthetic. It was soft but it was uncomfortably hot under the feet. Never again. The attractive properties of wool as a natural product must surely be superior within the home. I would pay more for that superior product any day. Remember how that old gingery-brown carpet of the 70's lasted!! That was the carpet that I replaced in 2015 so it had lasted at least 35 years. Ugly colour but brilliant product!

Rosemary G.
24 Oct 2021
Great to see support for wool

I had a similar experience when recarpeting and I had to insist that I wanted wool. It would be good if consumer could look into the environmental impact of all these synthetic carpets. It would also be good to find out about issues with underlay. This used to be felt and now all seems to be synthetic

Norman H.
23 Oct 2021
Woolen carpet

When we had to replace our carpet we were told that wool was old-fashioned and to get with it. Nobody made it anymore. Our choice of wool carpet was very limited. However, I still believe pure wool is better for the environment than synthetics and would hope that buyers of wool now get a greater range of products

Susan S.
23 Oct 2021
Wool only for us

We recently recarpeted the house with wool. We wouldn't have considered anything else. Interestingly, I recently read that our local carpet supplier is now selling a lot more wool carpet than synthetic.

Ray M.
23 Oct 2021
Where is the logic

Whether or not you consider wool to be renewable adn even a byproduct of meat which essentially it is these days for sheep farmers other than merino there can never be any good environmental reasons for a carpet made from fossil fuel.
It also stikes me as weird to cover the floor of your house in something that is so much worse should it burn than wool. Maybe we need better alternatives like hemp fibre but right now I'd always go for wool. If we costed the full environmental costs of synthetics into them they'd be way more expensive.

Maria Conlon
23 Oct 2021
Very good

Very good in making sure the competition are in check

Adam P.
23 Oct 2021
'Normal Use'

Guess they have used the expression 'normal use' to exclude lifetime impacts? - like at manufacture, and how old carpets get disposed of in the environment - inclusion of those would be a better metric than just while it's laid on a floor.

Ray S.
23 Oct 2021
Lifecycle assessment of carpets

These types of argument have gone on for many years in NZ and elsewhere. Perhaps its time for a thorough lifecycle assessment via the methodologies promoted by LCANZ (https://lcanz.org.nz/) and similar bodies. There are several entities in NZ which have the capabilities.

Peter R.
23 Oct 2021
Carpeting the rhetoric

Similarly experienced quite heavy sales pitch for synthetic by a relatively “upmarket” retailer. Met with a sniff when I insisted (and will always insist) on wool … for a number of reasons.

Willie &Chris V.
23 Oct 2021
Shops pushing towards synthetics.

Like other comments below I have found that the majority of carpet sellers push synthetics. We’ve always insisted on wool for our house for environmental reasons and local suppliers support. Please help to push out the plastic merchants. Chris V. Hawkes Bay

B A S.
23 Oct 2021
Many years ago

We got a tufted 70 wool/30 nylon Godfrey Hirst carpet installed in our lounge and it has withstood a lot of traffic quite unaffected. I recall it cost $230 per 12 foot wide which I think was a running measurement, whereas now it is costed per sq metre.

Maxine C.
23 Oct 2021
Lifetime costs

The durability of synthetic carpets is ultimately an environmental nightmare. They will not breakdown the way that natural fibres will, so what are we to do with them? They are also highly toxic if they burn.

Kevin H.
18 Oct 2021
Buy New Zealand

This dispute aside, if prices were competitive between synthetic and wool carpets, I would be buying wool carpet without doubt, to support New Zealand farmers.

David R.
23 Oct 2021
Wool v synthetic

When we wanted to replace our old carpet I got quotes from several carpet companies and they ALL insisted I should get synthetic because of them lasting longer, etc etc. I insisted I only wanted pure wool. It was cheaper to get wool then synthetic so not sure why you said wool was more expensive. Not in my case.