Sometimes consumers make purchases based on the fact that the product is good for the environment, or at least won’t wreak havoc on it. So misleading consumers on the nature of a products natural composition is grounds for a slap on the wrist by the Federal Trade Commission.
The FTC settled charges with American Plastic Manufacturing, Inc., after the company was found to have made misleading and unsubstantiated biodegradability claims for its plastic products.
Under the order, the company, which makes a variety of shopping bags, is prohibited from making biodegradability claims unless the representations are true and supported by reliable scientific evidence. The company must prove that the entire plastic product will completely decompose into elements found in nature within one year after customary disposal.
To make qualified claims, the company 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. Additionally, the company must disclosure that the stated rate and extent of degradation do not mean that the product will continue to decompose or decompose completely.
The settlement with American Plastic Manufacturing comes four months after the FTC began a crackdown on misleading and unsubstantiated ‘green’ statements made by companies. Four other manufacturing companies received similar orders and some were fined for the misleading statements.
In an attempt to stop companies from making false environmental claims, the FTC updated its Green Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims for advertisers. However, just last year 22% of consumes told the annual Green Gauge surgery by AdAge that they aren’t entirely sure if companies’ environmental claims are accurate.