Calling plastic bags oxodegradable may be deceptive


FTC / Federal Trade CommissionOne of the areas where the FTC is on the alert for deceptive advertising is in the green/environmentally-friendly area. And it’s warning that claiming biodegradability may be bogus.

In the case of plastic waste bags, the problem is that even though many of them will indeed disintegrate under the right conditions, the chances of them winding up in those conditions is often somewhat remote.

The fact is, for oxodegradable bags to work, they need to be exposed to oxygen, and that just isn’t going to happen to a bag that ends up buried in a landfill.

And most of them end up buried in a landfill or burned in an incinerator, or end up somewhere else where a lack of sufficient oxygen leaves them intact like any other piece of waste.

“If marketers don’t have reliable scientific evidence for their claims, they shouldn’t make them,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Claims that products are environmentally friendly influence buyers, so it’s important they be accurate.”

The FTC stated that is has “///advised marketers that consumers understand the terms ‘oxodegradable’ or ‘oxo biodegradable’ claims to mean the same thing as ‘biodegradable.’ Staff identified the 15 marketers as part of its ongoing review of green claims in the marketplace. It has given them until October 21, 2014, to respond to the warning letters and tell the staff if they will remove their oxodegradable claims from their marketing or if they have competent and reliable scientific evidence proving that their bags will biodegrade as advertised.