FTC Cracking Down on Misleading, Unsubstantiated Biodegradability Claims – USA

Posted on November 20, 2013 by DrRossH in Plastic Limiting Regulations

FTC Cracking Down on Misleading, Unsubstantiated Biodegradability Claims | Sustainable Brands.

Some of this FTC comments deserves merit but some are way out of touch with what industry is doing. By definition Industry leads then regulation follows to keep checks and balances. In this case some companies have developed landfill-biodegradable additives that when independently tested to ASTM D5511 are showing significant bio degradation. It may take 5,7, 10 years but that is far better than 300-500 years. Yet the FTC seems to not understand this not be bother to see if there is merit to these claims. They ought to be talking to these additive makers and looking at independent test results before making blind statements that do not do the industry or the consumer good.
It would be quite simple to sort out the false claims against the validated ones. Likewise the plastic suppliers ought to be clearly branding their packaging to show how long it is expected to take, which is very difficult in these early days and estimates can be quite various. But as long as the consumer is made aware that it may take 5 months or 5 years that would be reasonable. Going one step further there could be a standard labelling on biodegradation items that says;
This product is expected to biodegrade in
a) a landfill
b) a compost facility
And in
1)12 months,
2) 5 years,
3) 10 years
4) Longer than 10 years
Then the manufacturer just has to tick on the packaging which options and have the test results to support their claim when they get audited.

The PEC (Plastics Environmental council) are meant to be developing a new ASTM Standard that will take the guess work out of it and eradicate some of this misunderstanding. But the FTC has to make the effort to understand and support that Standard too.