Vermont Attorney General Sues “100% Compostable” Plastic Cup False Claims

siebe warmoeskerken

My family has been buying a lot of disposable tableware and plastic cups this summer so a recent action from the Vermont Attorney General’s office concerning “compostable” products caught my eye.

The action relates to items advertised as “100% compostable”. According to the packaging for some of the products, the items were not recommended for home composting but needed to be composted in a commercial facility. The Vermont Attorney General challenged this as misleading since most consumers in his state did not have access to commercial composting facilities. The business has agreed to settle claims and will be adding additional disclosures to their packaging.

So be sure to read the packaging carefully when trying to buy green and before you toss that plastic cup on the compost pile in the yard. More information on green claims in advertising is available from the Federal Trade Commission.

June 28, 2012

Fabri-Kal Corporation, based in Kalamazoo, Michigan, has agreed to settle claims by Vermont Attorney General William H. Sorrell that the company violated the state’s Consumer Protection Act by advertising as “compostable” its Greenware line of products, including “bioplastic” drinking cups, without disclosing the limited availability of local composting options. The settlement requires Fabri-Kal to pay $80,000 to the State of Vermont in penalties and costs, and another $20,000 to the Central Vermont Solid Waste Management District in Montpelier to develop a residential composting pilot project.

Commenting on the settlement, Attorney General Sorrell noted that environmental marketing claims are of great importance to Vermonters. “If a product is labeled ‘compostable,’” he said, “it should be an item that can be composted within a reasonable period of time in the back yard or else in a commercial facility that is actually accessible to most Vermonters. Otherwise, the marketing is deceptive.”

Starting in March 2005, Fabri-Kal sold over $2.4 million worth of its Greenware products in Vermont and consistently advertised and labeled them as “100% compostable.” Since the products were not recommended by the company for home composting, they needed to be composted in a commercial facility, as stated on much of Fabri-Kal’s packaging.

However, most Vermonters, and most of Vermont, are not served by municipal or commercial composting facilities that accept products such as Fabri-Kal’s—a fact that was not disclosed on the products. In addition, some product packaging contained no disclaimer at all.

The settlement prohibits Fabri-Kal from offering, selling or distributing any product in or into the State of Vermont, directly or indirectly, as “compostable” unless (a) the product packaging bears a disclosure that the product is not suitable for backyard composting, if that is the case; and (b) either (i) a substantial majority of Vermont consumers have practical access to commercial facilities that will accept the product for composting, or (ii) the absence of such facilities is disclosed (such as, “Commercial facilities may not exist in your area.”). All disclosures must appear near the compostability claim and not be significantly smaller or less visible than the claim itself.

For more information on the settlements, call the Attorney General’s Office at (802) 828-5507.

BioSphere biodegradable plastic additive material enhances the biodegradation of plastic products when placed into an active microbial environment. 594 Landfills across the US are capturing methane gas to power homes and businesses within their areas. This is why compostable companies that claim “100% Compostable” are incorrect and are misleading the public. With BioSphere’s biodegradable product you will enhance the biodegradation of your plastic materials from centuries to years or even months on some plastic products. According to our interdependent verification of compost sites within the US we have located three sites that have the ability to break down compostable products, one of the sites has to grind up the PLA based products in order for them to completely compost and charge you an enormous amount of money to do so. This site is not listed on the PLA or Biodegradable Products Institute’s website for an approved compost site, we have found this on our own. Biodegradable Products Institute has independently verified different sites that they say collect PLA cups and compostable materials, some of these sites have published by news or radio they do not take compostable plastic materials.

PLA and BPI have stated that these compost facilities take PLA products:

VERMONTFierce Bad Rabbit Farm (6)
802-375-9305 Arlington, VT

Intervale Compost Products Foundation(7)
802-660-4949Burlington, VT

Northeast Kingdom Waste ManagementDistrict (8)
802-734-4602Lyndonville, VT

The Highelds Institute (9)
802-472-5138Craftsbury, VT

Vermont Compost Company (10)
802-223-6049Montpelier, VT

Vermont Natural Ag. Products, Inc. (11)
802-388-1137Middlebury, VT

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