A packaging consultant is challenging President Donald Trump's reelection campaign's claims that its branded plastic straws are recyclable.
The president made news earlier this month when his campaign unveiled the opportunity for consumers to purchase a 10-pack of plastic straws with Trump's name for $15.
Now Victor Bell, founder and managing director of Environmental Packaging International of Jamestown, R.I., is pushing back against the campaign's claim that the straws are recyclable.
He calls the recycling description "deceptive" and is using regulations from the Federal Trade Commission to bolster his argument.
The FTC Green Guides lay out specific criteria that allows products to claim recyclability.
Those guides, in part, require that there be facilities able to recycle the product available to at least 60 percent of customers or consumers where the product is sold.
The guides also state items "should not be marked recyclable unless it can be collected, separated, or otherwise recovered from the waste stream through an established recycling program for reuse or use in manufacturing or assembling another item."
Bell has sent a letter to the FTC, claiming "Trump's marketing claims of straw recyclability deceptive under US Federal Trade Commission Green Guides and requests further action be taken."
Trump's campaign has politicized straws with this product description: "Liberal paper straws don't work. STAND WITH PRESIDENT TRUMP and buy your pack of recyclable straws today," a website selling the straws states.
That's one of two times, Bell claims, that the campaign falsely claims recyclability.
Bullet points describing the laser-engraved straws also claim they are "Reusable & Recyclable."
"Obviously you know why he's doing this, slapping the liberals," Bell said.
A key reason for writing the letter is education for everyone, he said.
"Obviously, the president can't even get it right or his team, following the Federal Trade Commission Green Guides or laws on convincing people what is and is not recyclable," he said.
"Any straw is not recyclable and people should be careful what they claim to be recyclable and this is a good example of that," Bell said.
The packaging and recycling consultant does indicate straws can be made from resin that is "technically recyclable" but that their size and shape make that essentially impossible.
That's because sortation equipment at material recovery facilities are not designed to handle small items such as straws or caps not on bottles, for example.
The smaller items typically fall through openings in equipment and end up as trash sent to landfills along with other so-called "fines."
MRF equipment is designed to effectively handle larger items such as plastic and metal containers, corrugated boxes and paper.
In his letter seeking action, Bell indicates the Green Guides has this to say: "An item that is made from recyclable material, but, because of its shape, size, or some other attribute, is not accepted in recycling programs, should not be marketed as recyclable."
Bell indicated that FTC is not required to respond to his letter and he does expect a response.
"Don't tell people something is recyclable when it's not," he said.