Three law firms have filed a class-action lawsuit against Advanced Environmental Recycling Technologies Inc. in U.S. District Court in Seattle.
The complaint accuses Springdale, Ark.-based AERT of using plastics contaminated with food waste to extrude its ChoiceDek-brand wood-plastic composite decking, which the company makes for Weyerhaeuser Inc. of Federal Way, Wash. ChoiceDek is sold in Lowe's home improvement retail stores.
Weyerhaeuser and Lowe's Cos. Inc. also were named in the suit.
According to the lawsuit, several homeowners have complained that ChoiceDek decking they purchased through Lowe's develops black mold spots over short periods of time.
The suit accuses AERT of doing an inadequate job of preparing recycled material for processing.
``The primary food source for recurring mold/mildew problems is ... organic materials inside the decking board through the use of recycled plastic contaminated with food and similar materials or, in the case of recycled soft drink bottles, contaminated with sugar,'' the lawsuit said.
AERT officials said they were ``blindsided'' by a news report of the lawsuit prior to being served papers.
Joe Brooks, AERT's chief executive officer, called some of the accusations ``scurrilous'' in a prepared statement Feb. 28.
Since 1988, AERT has been using recycled polyethylene and wood to manufacture composite decking, he said.
``The company does not utilize any recycled plastics in its processes until it has been cleaned, heat sterilized, and blended and reformulated into specific/desired ranges for physical properties,'' Brooks said. ``Additives and new plastics are also added as needed and AERT monitors this through a state-of-the-art analytical lab in Arkansas.
``Therefore, the allegations that AERT puts highly contaminated, recycled plastics including food waste into decking products are false and completely untrue.''