Plastic lumber firm forced to drop recycled content claims

Plastic lumber firm forced to drop recycled content claims

By Bobby Elliott, Plastics Recycling Update

Feb. 27, 2014

N.E.W. Plastics, a maker of alternative plastic products, has agreed to take back its recycling-related claims in a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

"Consumers deserve to know the truth about the products they are buying,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, in a press release. "Many of them want to buy products that are environmentally friendly, but they can’t do that if they get information that’s wrong or unsupported."

N.E.W., a Wisconsin-based company founded in 1968 with annual sales of $35 million, had allegedly misled consumers between September 2012 and March 2013 by inflating the recycled content in two of its plastic lumber products. According to the FTC release, N.E.W. claimed "Evolve" lumber contained at least 90 percent recycled content while "Trimax" lumber contained "mostly post-consumer recycled content." The company also allegedly claimed both products were recyclable.

The formal complaint issued by the FTC contends Evolve products "contained, at most, 58 percent recycled content" while Trimax products "contained less than 12 percent post-consumer recycled content."

The settlement between N.E.W. and the FTC requires the company to "have credible evidence to support any recycling-related claims it makes." N.E.W. also must ask "its distributors to remove any marketing material for the two products provided by the company before December 2013."

Representatives from N.E.W. did not respond to a request for comment on the issue, and the company has not issued a formal statement in response to the settlement.

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