The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced that N.E.W. Plastics Corp., a Luxemburg, Wis.-based manufacturer of plastic lumber products, has agreed to stop making allegedly unsubstantiated claims about the recycled content and recyclability of two of its brands of plastic lumber.
Under the FTC settlement, N.E.W. Plastics must have credible evidence to support any recycling-related claims it makes and is required to tell its distributors to remove any marketing material for the two products provided by the company before December 2013.
“Consumers deserve to know the truth about the products they are buying,” says Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “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. Plastics Corp., which does business as Renew Plastics, makes plastic lumber products, including the Evolve and Trimax brands.
In its administrative complaint, the FTC alleges that between September 2012 and March 2013, N.E.W. made false and misleading claims while promoting Evolve and Trimax. Specifically, the company claimed:
- Evolve products are made from 90 percent or more recycled content;
- Trimax products are made from mostly postconsumer recycled content; and
- both Evolve and Trimax are recyclable.
The proposed consent order prohibits N.E.W. from making any statements about the recycled content, postconsumer recycled content or environmental benefits of any product unless it is true, not misleading and substantiated by competent and reliable evidence, which for some claims must be scientific evidence.
The proposed order also bars N.E.W. from making unqualified recyclable claims about any product unless the product can be recycled in an established recycling program and such facilities are available to at least 60 percent of consumers or communities where the product is sold. If N.E.W. can’t meet these requirements, it must qualify the claim regarding the availability of recycling centers. If only part of the product is recyclable, N.E.W. must disclose to consumers which part or portion of the product is recyclable.
Finally, the proposed order bars N.E.W. from providing anyone else with the means of making false, misleading or unsubstantiated claims. The order will end in 20 years.