Just because a company says its plastic bags are biodegradable doesn’t mean it’s true.
The staff of the Federal Trade Commission has sent letters warning 15 marketers of “oxodegradable” plastic waste bags that their oxodegradable, oxo biodegradable, or biodegradable claims may be deceptive.
Oxodegradable plastic is made with an additive that causes it to degrade in the presence of oxygen. Most waste bags go to landfills where little oxygen exists, so these bags may not be more biodegradable than ordinary plastic bags.
The agency's 2012 revisions to its "Guides For the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims" (the Green Guides) indicates these locations don't present conditions in which complete decomposition will occur within one year.
The FTC has given the 15 marketers until October 21 to reply to the warning letter. They need to tell the staff if they’ll remove their oxodegradable claims from their marketing or if they have scientific evidence proving that their bags will biodegrade as advertised.
Unfortunately, the FTC staff didn’t disclose who received the letters.