Auckland mayor Phil Goff is demanding answers from global cosmetics giant Sephora after its "unacceptable waste" dumping during its much-hyped store launch in Auckland.
His comments come after New Zealand Māori Council executive director Matthew Tukaki took aim at the company and also millennials, saying, "All these young climate warriors? Get off your backsides and start practising what you preach", after seeing close to 1000 people queued up on Queen St and neighbouring streets before the store opened to exploding ticker tape cannons at 9am.
But Sephora hit back at the claims saying the confetti used was bio-degradable, water soluble and plant based.
"We worked closely with Auckland Council to meet all requirements, including waste management and health and safety plan, for its approved event permit to ensure the confetti was safe for the environment," a Sephora spokesperson said.
However, Goff disputed this in a tweet posted yesterday afternoon saying: "Totally untrue that council granted permission for such behaviour – waste must be collected & disposed of responsibly."
Unacceptable for anyone, particularly a major retailer, to be polluting our waterways. Totally untrue that council granted permission for such behavior – waste must be collected & disposed of responsibly. I'll be writing to Sephora for an explanation & council will investigate— Phil Goff (@phil_goff) July 20, 2019
"I'll be writing to Sephora for an explanation & council will investigate," he said.
Goff told Newstalk ZB you don't flush paper down the stormwater system.
"I know Sephora are saying that this is water soluble. The council officers are saying something quite different in terms of the acceptability of that practice."
He says it should have been swept up and disposed of like any other paper waste.
Sephora says it's cooperating with the council in its investigation.
Auckland Council manager of events David Burt said Sephora informed the council confetti waste would be used but it was expected all waste would be cleaned up and disposed of appropriately.
"We will be investigating the reported incidents from today's opening," Burt said.
After the comments from Goff and Burt, Sephora responded that they were "cooperating with the council in its investigation".
"Sephora has been working closely with Auckland Council the past few months to ensure everything from traffic management to waste management followed the right protocols," the company said in a statement.
"The approved confetti used was bio-degradable, water soluble and plant based and was cleaned up and disposed of appropriately. Excess water was only used where the confetti had already started to bio-degrade due to rainfall to further dissolve and clear the footpath avoiding any health and safety risks for the general public."
Tukaki said this was an absolute disgrace.
"We have hundreds of at-risk waterways across the nation and now we have some multinational company ... dumping chemical, cosmetic-laden waste down our waterways – and all, according to a spokesperson for Sephora New Zealand, with the permission of the Auckland Council.
Matthew Tukaki says he saw Sephora staff sweeping and dumping paper waste into Queen St drains, which flow to the sea. Photo / Matthew Tukaki
"I have witnessed first hand the use of large plastic laundry tubs filled to the brim with wastewater and paper-laden waste with chemical cosmetics just being dumped and pushed into the drains – all as hundreds of young people line up turning a blind eye to it all – some of the same young people who turned out in droves to protest climate change and call on more environmental sustainability."
Tukaki, who was on his way to get a haircut when he came across the Sephora opening, had a message for the many young people he saw queued up Queen St this morning.
"Hundreds of these young people were lined up around the corner turning a blind eye as this happened all in wrapped up in the frenzy of consumerism. Act, don't talk, is my message, young people.
"And my message to all young and old – don't buy from this company."
Sephora has spent an estimated $5 million to fit out its three-storey Queen St store.
It has been a rapid and glitzy marketing campaign in the countdown to opening.
The international retailer has large stores in more than 12 countries. It's understood expansion plans include opening a store at Sylvia Park shopping mall in Auckland before Christmas.