Hanging the Greenwashing Out to Dry

When companies advertised compostable dog waste bags that couldn’t be put in composting facilities in practice, who sent them to the doghouse?

When companies marketed “biodegradable” plastic garbage bags despite the fact that nothing really biodegrades well in landfills, who trashed those claims?

The Federal Trade Commission – that’s who.

For more than 100 years, the FTC has worked to stop business practices that are anticompetitive or deceptive or unfair to American consumers. It builds informed consumer choice and public understanding of the competitive process. And more and more of its attention is on environmental claims.

Consumers are looking for products that deliver environmental benefits. Businesses know this, of course. Many companies follow the same path that led to PurPod100™ — do the research, build the evidence, test the product and deliver what consumers want and expect.

But not every company and every product really lives up to the claims. Too often, “greenwashing” claims seem good for the environment but are actually no more than empty sales pitches. Too often, consumers have to wade through confusing claims – unlike the respected, independent certification of compostability behind PurPod100™.

Greenwashing is one place where the FTC comes in. It is the sheriff, bringing law and order to the Wild West of environmental marketing claims across the United States. The FTC uses the courts and its own processes to get results. In some cases, companies have been hit with hefty fines. In others, they have agreed to stop making claims until they get real proof – or drop certain claims completely. (https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases)

“Biodegradable” claims are one growing focus of FTC action that is likely to have impacts on single serve coffee marketing. As the FTC points out, for something to be advertised as biodegradable under US consumer protection rules it needs to completely break down into natural components within a year of being disposed of. However, anything likely to go into a landfill will not meet that test within a year – if ever. This includes coffee pods that have to go into landfills because they cannot be put into composting facilities and they are not truly welcome by recyclers.

So coffee greenwashers better be on alert. The FTC sheriff is looking for you. Meanwhile, consumers can relax and enjoy the certified 100% compostable benefits of coffees using PurPod100™.