Both sides are claiming success in a Federal Trade Commission ruling regarding biodegradability claims of a plastics additive from ECM BioFilms Inc.
ECM says its biodegradable plastics claim has been upheld by Chief Administrative Law Judge D. Michael Chappell.
But the Federal Trade Commission says the ruling also finds that the company violated the “FTC Act by deceptively claiming” that plastics treated with the company's additives would completely biodegrade within 9 months to 5 years.
The judge's decision “held ECM's claim that its plastics additive, ECM MasterBatch Pellets, causes plastics to biodegrade is supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence,” the company said in a statement.
But the FTC said an order accompanying the judge's initial decision would bar the company from claiming that any product or package would biodegrade “within any time period” unless the representation is true and not misleading and that the company has scientific evidence to support the representation.
The FTC admitted that it failed to prove that the company's biodegradability claims amounted to an implied claim that the plastics would “completely breakdown into elements found in nature in a landfill within one year.”
The company, for its part, said it was “particularly gratified” by the judge's determination that ECM MasterBatch Pellets cause plastics to biodegrade is supported by evidence.
“We have long since discontinued making claims concerning estimated periods within which biodegradation may occur and have no intention of making such claims in the future,” the company said in a statement.
The FTC said the judge's initial decision found that the agency proved “ECM provided the means and instrumentalities for deceptive marketing claims to be conveyed to others in the ECM supply chain.”
The Painesville, Ohio-based company came out in disagreement of the charge back in October 2013.
“We have the scientific evidence that plastic products manufactured with our additives will fully biodegrade in landfills that accept municipal solid waste and in reasonable periods of time,” President Robert Sinclair said at the time in a statement.
The initial decision becomes final after 30 days unless one of the parties appeals or the full commission places it on its own docket for review, the FTC said.