Following a public comment period, the Federal Trade Commission has approved a final order settling charges that American Plastic Manufacturing, Inc. made misleading and unsubstantiated biodegradability claims for its plastic products. The final order is the fourth resulting from a set of “green” marketing cases, first announced in October 2013. The Commission approved final orders in the related three cases in January.
Under the FTC’s final order, the company is prohibited from making biodegradability claims unless the representations are true and supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence. The company must have evidence that the entire plastic product will completely decompose into elements found in nature within one year after customary disposal (defined as disposal in a landfill, incinerator, or recycling facility) before making any unqualified biodegradable claim.
In order to make qualified claims, the companies must state the time required for complete biodegradation in a landfill or the time to degrade in a disposal environment near where consumers who buy the product live. Alternatively, the companies may state the rate and extent of degradation in a landfill or other disposal facility accompanied by an additional disclosure that the stated rate and extent do not mean that the product will continue to decompose or decompose completely.
The Commission vote approving the final order was 4-0. The FTC responded to one comment it received during the public comment period. (FTC File No. 122-3291; the staff contact is Katherine Johnson, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-2185)
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Mitchell J. Katz
Office of Public Affairs