We feel that the recently updated FTC Green Guidelines have really cleared up the past confusing and often ambiguous guidelines regarding marketing claims of biodegradable and compostable. The FTC in their updated green guidelines have provided clear explanations and examples of appropriate marketing claims that would eliminate confusion among “green” type of claims being made in the market today. Claims such as ‘biodegradable’, ‘compostable’ and even ‘recyclable’ have been addressed in the updated FTC Green Guidelines and should eliminate any and all confusion that lingered from earlier guidelines.
So can a company make the claim of “biodegradable?”
The answer is yes! There are two ways to do so:
A company can claim biodegradable if that material biodegrades with a one year timeframe within the customary disposal environment. The company making that claim should have reliable scientific data to back up the one year timeframe for biodegradation within the customary disposal environment.
Or, for products that are biodegradable but take longer than one year to biodegrade, (After all, even food waste takes longer than a year to biodegrade in a landfill environment) the claim must be fully qualified.
What does “fully qualified” mean?
It means that a company must include additional information along with the claim of biodegradable. That additional information includes the environment and timeframe.
This approach also applies to claims of compostable. Products that use the general claim of compostable must compost in a backyard compost environment and compost very rapidly. For products that will not readily compost in typical backyard compost environments, the claims would need to be fully qualified to include the type of compost environment and if needed the timeframe.
There is a caveat to this, and that is that many compostable plastics require an Industrial or Commercial Compost Facility in order to properly compost. These facilities are not readily available to most of the world and so the availability of placing the compostable product into the proper disposal environment should be included in with the marketing claims.
And what about the claim “recyclable”?
Most polymers are technically but unfortunately are not. With recyclability claims be sure to use a qualified claim if less than 60% of consumers have access to facilities that recycle your product.
The general idea behind the updated FTC green Guidelines is to minimize or prevent confusion about environmental claims being made about a product and/or the products packaging. ENSO fully supports this approach and we believe it is crucial that green marketing claims are as accurate and complete as possible so not to result in confusing or misleading claims.
If you would like additional information on this subject please feel free to contact us.