Companies Forced To Scramble Amongst “Green-Washing” Claims

genarex Blog

Source: Keller and Heckman, LLP – NAD Says “Oxo-Biodegradable” Claims Not Supported
It was announced last week that the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has come forward with a decision that a series of claims made by PolyGreen Bags (and their manufacturer, GP Plastics) were invalid. GP Plastics were found referring to their product as “100% oxo-biodegradable”, “completely recyclable”, “eco-friendly”, “environmentally friendly” and promising a “Green Tomorrow”. The NAD ruled that “100% oxo-biodegradable”, “biodegradable”, and “recyclable” should be discontinued.

To clarify, the NAD cited that there is no appreciable difference between “oxo-biodegradable” and “biodegradable” when it comes to marketing claims. To be ruled a biodegradable product the article must be completely broken down and returned to nature within a reasonably short period of time after customary disposal.

GP Plastics has stated that they plan to appeal the decision.

For a consumer, it is welcome news that sustainable watchdog groups are actively seeking truth behind claims made by manufacturers who seem broad or ambiguous. Clearly, the landscape is moving rapidly away from the first movers who made claims which could have been questioned. Today and moving forward, companies need to seek solutions which have discrete, defensible messaging behind them, as well as data to support claims made at launch.

For a manufacturer, this makes the challenge of fielding a defensible, sustainable solution far more troublesome. This news is not a targeted attack on GP Plastics, but rather an example of the business world surrounding sustainable solutions tightening its belt. This is yet another sign that products need to be fully vetted, as well as marketing claims be fully supported by scientific evidence.

Solutions which do not incorporate materials and processes which can be validated with documented evidence supporting their green claims now beg to be litigated against, particularly in a landscape where lawmakers crusade to shut down the manufacturing of grocery and other durable plastic bag solutions. Entities such as OK Compost and the USDA Biopreferred Program should be sought out by educated manufacturers to create responsible, defensible bags which pass the sniff test and offer something tangible to the customer and the environment.