Californians are committed to making good decisions about the products they purchase. Many people seek out, and are willing to pay a bit more for, products that claim to be safer for the environment. The Attorney General believes it is important that consumers be able to rely on “green” claims.
In October 2011, the Attorney General filed a first-of-its-kind "greenwashing" lawsuit against three companies that allegedly made false and misleading claims by marketing plastic water bottles as "100 percent biodegradable and recyclable." Read the complaint, pdf. In 2012, the Court approved settlements that require the companies to (1) stop using the term “biodegradable” on the labels of plastic bottles; (2) stop using plastic bottles containing organic additives that compromise the bottles’ recyclability; (3) remove biodegradable claims from all marketing materials; (4) provide corrective notice with respect to prior “biodegradable” claims; and (5) pay penalties. These settlements ensure the correction of false and misleading labeling that undermines the State’s recycling goals and consumers’ understanding of appropriate disposal of plastic products.
For more information on California law concerning environmental claims, including a summary of recent changes, see Quick Reference Guide to "Biodegradable," "Compostable," and Related Claims on Plastic Products in California, pdf. To learn about the Federal Trade Commission’s views on environmental claims, see Environmental Claims: Summary of the Green Guides.