FTC issues new Green Guide version on compostable plastics claims

17 February 2013 (Last Updated February 17th, 2013 18:30)

A revised version of new ‘Green Guide’ has been issued by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which warns against making misleading environmental claims pertaining to plastics.

A revised version of new 'Green Guide' has been issued by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which warns against making misleading environmental claims pertaining to plastics.

The FTC, which has power to prosecute in such cases, said that it is deceptive to misrepresent a product or package as compostable, either directly or by implication.

Among the first of FTC's two main concerns was the limited availability of industrial composting facilities, and they warned against compostability claims if they were not accessible to a substantial majority of consumers where the item was sold.

The second concern pertained to the performance of 'compostable' plastics in home and industrial composting.

According to FTC, it was not enough to show that a test item had complied with ASTM D6400 or D6868, as those standards likely do not typify compost facility operations nationwide, and rather reflect optimum conditions besides ignoring wide variation in actual facility operations.

FTC noted that the plastics that are compostable are often marketed as made from renewable materials.

Unless consumers are advised that significant amounts of non-renewable resources are used in the agricultural production process and the polymerisation process of bio-based plastics, they may be deceived by renewability claims.

It is required that marketers qualify claims if they mislead consumers about environmental benefit when the item is disposed of in a landfill.

Consumers may also be misled if the marketer does not highlight the fact that bio-based plastics can produce methane deep in landfill.