FTC Sends Warning Letters to Makers of Biodegradable Dog Waste Bags, Claims May be Deceptive

FTC Sends Warning Letters to Makers of Biodegradable Dog Waste Bags, Claims May be Deceptive
Image: Pixabay
February 3, 2015

Your environmentally friendly dog waste bags may not be so, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The FTC sent warning letters to 20 manufacturers and marketers of dog waste bags that it does not believe live up to claims that they are biodegradable or compostable. The FTC is not disclosing the names of the companies.

Based on FTC guidelines for using environmental marketing claims, unless otherwise stated, consumers generally believe that if a product is labeled biodegradable, it will break down into its natural components within one year after customary disposable. No plastic thrown in conventional landfills will break down within a year and likely won't breakdown at all.

Similarly, unless otherwise stated, consumers generally think compostable means that the product will break down in their home composters at the same rate as other natural products, like leaves and grass clippings. Even if marketers disclose that the product can only be composted in commercial or municipal facilities, consumers may believe that these are generally available in their area. Dog waste is considered unsafe for home composting and few commercial facilities will accept it.

The letters warn that companies may be making potentially deceptive statements about their products, which could violate the law. The letters also ask that the companies review their marketing material and respond with how they will remove or revise the claims, or provide reasons for why they won't.