FTC Warns Marketers Not To 'Bamboozle' Consumers With Misleading Biodegradable Or Green Claims

Author:Mr Barnes & Thornburg Media, Advertising Group
Profession:Barnes & Thornburg

Companies touting eco-friendly products, biodegradable packaging, or other "green" claims should be aware that FTC enforcement relating to such environmental claims is on the rise in the current administration. On Feb. 3, 2010, the FTC sent letters (available at http://www.ftc.gov/bamboo) to 78 retailers nationwide, warning them that labeling rayon products as made of "bamboo" and/or "biodegradable" is potentially misleading and may lead to enforcement actions from the FTC. The FTC's recent warning letters come on the heels of several 2009 enforcement actions alleging companies falsely touted their rayon products were "bamboo" or "biodegradable." The FTC acknowledged that bamboo was the cellulose source for the products, but contended that the final product was rayon. According to the FTC, using bamboo to create rayon requires harsh and toxic chemical processing and the resulting rayon did not retain the eco-friendly or antimicrobial properties of raw bamboo. Moreover, the FTC re-iterated its position that rayon products are not readily "biodegradable" as such textile products often end up in landfills where it is virtually impossible for such waste to break down within a reasonably short time under customary methods of disposal. See In the Matter of The M Group, Inc., et al. (http://www.ftc.gov/os/adjpro/d9340/index.shtm). Earlier in 2009, the FTC cracked down on both manufacturers and retailers of towellete wipes contending the products were falsely advertised as "biodegradable" because the wipes would not in fact biodegrade in a reasonably...

To continue reading