Most dog waste bags are labeled as biodegradable or compostable, but recently the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued warnings to 20 manufacturers of the bags claiming that their products could be noncompliant with truth-in-advertising regulations.
The major issue with the claims is that they don’t take in to account how dog owners will dispose of the product after they’ve picked up after their dog. Similarly, most people assume that if a product is labeled compostable it can be taken home and put into a compost pile or taken to a composting center.
The truth is, when most dog waste bags are thrown out, they are put into regular garbage bins which get taken to landfills, and the plastic in landfills does not biodegrade in anywhere remotely close to one year, if it every biodegrades at all.
Likewise, because of the risk of disease, most compost centers will not accept bags with dog feces and composting it at home can have risky health effects as well.
The letters were sent out after staff at the FTC examined the environmental, or “green,” claims on the companies’ websites and in other media outlets. They were looking for potentially deceptive statements regarding the compostability or biodegradability of the bags.
Jessica Rich, Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the FTC, explained that it is critical for the FTC to look at the statements that companies are making to be sure they are not misleading to consumers and to protect competitors that are providing honest statements about their similar products.
It is the FTC’s job to make sure that consumers do not need to guess whether the statements on the products that they buy are accurate or not.
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They have not released the names of the companies that received these letters, but they do warn other companies that just because they didn’t receive a letter it doesn’t mean that their policies are fine.
The FTC recommends that all manufacturers of dog waste bags should review their marketing materials and contact the agency if they revise or remove any of their claims. They are hoping that any company that believes their bags are compostable or biodegradable will review their product and the FTC’s Guide for the Use of Environmental Marketing to make sure their claims are accurate.