FTC resolves complaints against misleading and unsubstantiated biodegradability marketing claims

The FTC, yesterday, issued final orders in three cases involving biodegradable claims for plastic products.

Brian Dunkiel
May 11, 2018

The FTC, yesterday, issued final orders in three cases involving biodegradable claims for plastic products.

The FTC charged the three companies under the Federal Trade Act, alleging the use of marketing materials that misrepresented the environmental characteristics of plastic products.  More specifically, the marketing claims said that the products were biodegradable in a landfill or biodegradable over any specific period of time.  The agency alleged that the companies made the biodegradable claims with insufficient scientific evidence.



The FTC’s Green Guides provide guidance to marketers on making environmental marketing claims in compliance with consumer protection laws.  The Green Guides, updated in October 2012, offers new, more stringent requirements on the use of unqualified biodegradable claims.

Examples of the challenged claims from the FTC complaints include:

  • The products are “are biodegradable, i.e., will completely break down and decompose into elements found in nature within a reasonably short period of time after customary disposal”; and
  • The products “have been shown to be biodegradable, biodegradable in a landfill, or biodegradable in a stated qualified timeframe under various scientific tests including, but not limited to, ASTM D5511.”

These FTC enforcement actions continue the agency’s efforts to more closely watch environmental marketing claims.

About The Author

Brian is a co-founder of the firm and serves as a trusted legal advisor to some of Vermont’s leading businesses and nonprofit organizations. He has a proven track record of working with clients to resolve complex problems and disputes by helping them evaluate options and achieve their objectives ...

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