FTC Finds Plastic-Lumber Company Made Deceptive Claims in Advertising

FTC Finds Plastic-Lumber Company Made Deceptive Claims in Advertising
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September 12, 2014

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) approved a final order against a company that makes, markets and sells plastic lumber.

The FTC's order settles charges that Illinois-based Engineered Plastic Systems made deceptive claims in its advertising and marketing material by saying many of its products are made entire out of recycled plastic. According to the FTC, the products were made of less than three-quarters recycled plastic.

Among others, the company claimed that some of its benches and tables were "made entirely of recycled plastic lumber," had an "all recycled plastic design" and were "constructed using 2x4 recycled plastic lumber profiles."

In its complaint the FTC alleges that a reasonable customer would interpret those claims to mean that the products are made from all, or mostly, recycled plastic. But, between June 2011 and 2014, they contained, on average less than 75 percent recycled plastic.

Specifically, the complaint charges that the company made deceptive environmental claims for its Eco, Hexagonal, and Perennial tables; and its Garden, Geneva, and Trailside benches. None of these products, the FTC alleged, are made of "all or virtually all recycled plastic," and the company's claims therefore violate the FTC Act, which prohibits deceptive and misleading advertising.

As a result of the order, in the future Engineered Plastics Systems must have credible evidence including scientific proof if necessary to support any environmental benefit claims it makes. The final order also requires EPS to specifically substantiate any claims it makes about the amount of recycled content in its products. In addition, the final order prohibits such claims unless they are true and not misleading.