greenwashing

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is taking on six cases dealing with companies that have made claims regarding the biodegradability of their plastics. One of the cases has been filed against a company marketing an additive that supposedly makes plastic biodegradable.

“It’s no secret that consumers want products that are environmentally friendly, and that companies are trying to meet that need,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “But companies that don’t have evidence to support the environmental claims they make about their products erode consumer confidence and undermine those companies that are playing by the rules.”

To help companies properly market their products, the FTC recently launched Green Guides, outlining what makes for deceptive and non-deceptive marketing. Greenwashing, the intentional or accidental practice of claiming certain environmental benefits of products, can in fact open up a company to class action law suits.

As the American public becomes more wary of brash environmental claims, the FTC wants to make its guidelines more available and easier to implement, so that companies don’t unintentionally break the rules.

“Frankly, I’m not sure, because of the complexities of green, that greenwash — especially the inadvertent kind —  will ever be eradicated completely. But companies that follow the latest FTC update to a tee will certainly stand a chance,” Jacquelyn Ottman of J. Ottman Consulting told Triple Pundit.

In the past several years, a few significant greenwashing cases have come to fruition, including lawsuits against Dole and Fiji Water.

The FTC levied a $450,000 civil penalty against AJM Packaging Corporation, a manufacturer of paper products, including paper plates, cups, bowls, napkins, and bags. Although they were ordered to not make environmental claims about their products unless they had “competent and reliable scientific evidence,” the company went ahead marketing a number of its paper products as  biodegradable, compostable or both.

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