Perspectives: Compliance Advisor

FTC Targets Biodegradable Materials

Reliable evidence must support claims about the rate and extent of decomposition

By Lynn Bergeson, regulatory editor
Nov 17, 2015

On October 20, 2015, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a “Final Order and Opinion” against ECM BioFilms, Inc., stating that ECM made false and unsubstantiated environmental claims that its additives for plastics (ECM Plastics) would make treated plastics biodegrade in a landfill. The opinion come two years after FTC issued an administrative complaint against ECM and ten months after an FTC Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued an Initial Decision finding ECM violated FTC Act Section 5 because evidence did not support its claims that ECM Plastics would biodegrade plastics within nine months to five years. Significantly, FTC reverses part of the ALJ’s decision, finding that FTC counsel hadn’t met its burden in proving ECM made false, misleading, and material-implied biodegradable claims that ECM Plastics will completely biodegrade in a landfill within one year, a temporal period identified in the FTC Green Guides.

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