A consortium working to develop a standard for labeling biodegradable plastic products says it does not understand the timing of a lawsuit filed by the state of California charging three firms with making false claims about the biodegradability of their bottles.
The suit was filed in late October against Enso Plastics and bottled-water firms Aquamantra Inc. and Balance Water Co. All three stand behind their products but the bottled-water firms say they will remove the world “biodegradable” from their labels to comply with state law SB 568, which prohibits the use of the word on bags, and on food and beverage packaging. Enso also said it will comply with the law.
That law, however, is being superseded by SB 567, a state law recently signed by Gov. Jerry Brown that will extend that labeling ban to all plastic products and go into effect Jan. 1, 2013.
The Plastics Environmental Council — a consortium of companies, scientists, environmentalists, academics, engineers and landfill and compost operators formed a year ago — claims the new law's implementation was pushed back from Jan. 1, 2012, so PEC could finish developing a standard for biodegradability.
But nonprofit environmental group Californians Against Waste says the date was changed to allow time to clear existing mislabeled products off the shelf. “The amendment delaying implementation of SB 567 to Jan. 1, 2013, was a political accommodation to get [PEC] to remove their opposition to the bill,” said CAW Executive Director Mark Murray.
PEC Chairman Robert McKnight disagreed, saying the attorney general may not have known the state Legislature had agreed to let PEC finish developing a standard specification acceptable to the Senate's Environmental Quality Committee. If the standard is amended to SB 567, the firms named in the suit will be in compliance, he said in a Nov. 1 statement issued by PEC, based in Milton, Ga.
Even so, Murray said CAW would oppose the use of the biodegradability standard.