LG’s fridge fiasco: the interview

By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: The LG refrigerators incorrectly promoting energy efficiency were labelled in South Korea, where an investigation is currently under way to determine the exact cause of the error, the Australian office yesterday revealed.

LG sales director Graeme Cunningham told Current.com.au that despite this mistake in energy labelling being the third such ‘greenwashing’ controversy in LG’s recent history, these errors are neither intentional nor indicative of a culture of recalcitrance.

“We would never do it intentionally,” he said. “It’s come about based on the old regulations that finished at the end of September last year, those two went through under the old arrangements.”

“We have a number of controls in place, we are reviewing those, particularly in the process from the Korean side where they were actually labelled, and how that came about, so we’re investigating that as we speak to find out how it happened.”

Although Cunningham accepted that three major incidents in the last six years was not a great record, he insisted that these mistakes were isolated. He rejected the notion that there was a culture of deception or apathy.

“They’re isolated incidents. I take your point that over the last six years we’ve had three incidents, including this one; we’re just working very hard to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Cunningham did raise an interesting point, however, when attempting to explain how it comes to be that appliances are mislabelled. He said the continuous changes to efficiency standards were a factor.

“There are a lot of changes happening all the time within the industry with regulations, as far as water efficiency and energy efficiency go, so there’s a lot for us to keep track of.”

This is a point that’s been made by other suppliers in other industries, most notably air conditioning. Cunningham, however, refused to point the finger at the authorities, saying the information is being communicated, though not necessarily at an efficient rate.

“Sometimes it might not be as timely as we’d like and we have to move fairly quickly, but generally speaking, yes, I think [regulation information] is being communicated fairly accurately and it’s up to us to make sure we comply with all those deadlines.”

Finally, we asked Cunningham about LG's global view on environmental issues, and whether the corporation from Korea down considers them important.

"It’s very much part of our forward thinking. Globallym it’s a key part of us growing in the global market, so how we address that is really important. This is an example of where we haven’t done it correctly so we need to improve on it for the future."

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