Two large Australian retailers, The Reject Shop and Dusk are the first suppliers to be penalised under the world-first mandatory standards for button batteries (BBs), enforceable since June 2022.
Both companies paid a total of almost $240,000 in fines for their failures to comply with the mandatory product safety and information standards for button batteries (BB standards). The ACCC is taking a serious and proactive approach to enforcing the BB standards, in line with its enforcement priority to target consumer product safety issues affecting young children and has previously indicated that it will focus on proactively assessing unsafe BB products both online and in stores such as discount retailers, variety shops, major retailers, pharmacies, newsagents and at large events.
You will be subject to the BB standards if you manufacture, import, distribute or retail BBs or BB products within Australia or for the Australian market. Given the prevalence of BBs in retail products, here’s what you need to know about the BB standards and what the ACCC’s latest actions mean for your business.
The ACCC alleged that Dusk and The Reject Shop each sold Halloween-themed novelty products that had not been safety tested as required by the BB standards.
Breach: Dusk is an in-store and online retailer which sells candles, homewares and fragrance products to consumers in Australia and has 131 retail stores nationwide. During August – October 2022, Dusk sold four BB Products that had not been safety tested to the relevant standard prior to sale. It also failed to include safety information and warnings about the safety risks of BBs.
Outcome: For selling over 7700 units of non-compliant BB products, the ACCC issued Dusk with eight infringement notices totalling $106,560, including:
Dusk also agreed to a court-enforceable undertaking to implement a 3-year compliance program. In response to the ACCC’s investigations and concerns, Dusk also ceased supplying the products and initiated a voluntary recall of these products.
Breach: The Reject Shop is a publicly listed discount retailer that has an online presence and 370 stores around Australia. During September – December 2022, The Reject Shop sold over 20,000 units of a Halloween-themed LED pumpkin product and failed to perform safety tests prior to its sale of these products.
Outcome: The Reject Shop paid a penalty of $133,200 in response to one infringement notice issued by the ACCC, and also committed to improving its existing compliance procedures and staff training.
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