The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has ruled that Ohio-based ECM Biofilms was wrong in the past for claiming its additives promote complete degradation and will be wrong again unless the company proves otherwise.
The ruling, which comes after months of back and forth between the FTC and ECM, goes a step further than a previous ruling. Originally, a judge for the FTC’s Office of Administrative Law found that while ECM falsely marketed its additives, the company corrected its messaging and could continue to claim plastics containing its additive were biodegradable.
The final FTC ruling, however, contends that in addition to misleading the public in the past, ECM will have to back up its claims going forward.
In the announcement, FTC states products marked as biodegradable due to the addition of an ECM additive must either fully decompose within five years or contain specific qualifiers regarding the timeline for the degradation process.
Lawyers for ECM blasted the ruling, saying that even fruit and paper wouldn’t meet the FTC’s definition of biodegradable.
The Association of Plastic Recyclers, meanwhile, lauded the final ruling.
“We are extremely pleased the FTC has conducted its final decision in support of good science,” Steve Alexander, executive director of APR, said in a statement. “Degradable additives in the stream of recyclable raw material are harmful, not only because of lost opportunity, but also for damage that could occur to items made of recycled plastic that include degradable additives.”