Statement regarding the decision of the Court of Haarlem and the case against ASICS

(27/10/2003) Following the decision earlier this year by the Dutch Commercial Code Commission which condemned ASICS for unethical marketing of sports-goods , ASICS continued to promote its sports products with the PVC Free logo. As a result the Chlorophiles, an association of workers in the chlorine and PVC industry, entered a complaint in the Court of Haarlem against ASICS.

The recent judgement made by the court rejected the claim urging ASICS to stop using the 'PVC free' logo as the court considered it a neutral factual communication. The judge felt that it is quite acceptable to inform the consumer about the presence of PVC in a product, because the environmental aspects of PVC form part of many strategic documents including the Dutch strategy document on PVC, the EU Green Paper and the EU Ecolabel on footwear. The logo was therefore judged as an acceptable means in this respect. However the court upheld the advertising authority's decision to prevent ASICS from stating on its label that PVC was harmful or hazardous and the company has already removed this wording from its products.

Jean-Pierre De Greve , Executive Director of the European Council of Vinyl Manufacturers commented following the judgement saying; " We are disappointed with the decision made by the court as we believe it is unacceptable that companies are promoting their products at the expense of another material. It is evident that labelling "PVC - free" implies that the material has negative aspects , just like in the wordings "lead-free gazoline", or "alcohol-free beer". It also gives the impression that the material has been substituted by an alternative which is better, in this case from an environmental point of view but ASICS is not in a position to demonstrate this and the statement "PVC - free" is consequently misleading and contradictory to the Dutch advertising laws".

He added: "The ongoing EU debate on PVC has not resulted in any restrictions on the use of PVC and the Ecolabel for footwear actually promotes the use of recycled PVC in shoe soles, which shows that PVC is recyclable and plays an active part in sustainable development".