United States: California Expands Marketing Restrictions On Plastic Products To Cover All Consumer Products
To print this article, simply register or connect to Mondaq.com.
On October 5, 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom promulgated the law Assembly Bill 1201 (AB 1201), enacting new restrictions on environmental marketing claims made to California consumers. AB 1201 expands existing state restrictions on several environmental marketing claims for plastic products, including “biodegradable” and “compostable” claims, so that they now presumably cover all consumer products sold in the world. ‘State. In light of California’s long history of public enforcement of its âgreenwashingâ laws under the state’s Unfair Competition Act (UCL), companies that make environmental claims about their products products must review their marketing claims and assess compliance under AB 1201 before the new restrictions take effect on January 1, 2022. California’s passage of this state-specific law is also a good reminder that A manufacturer’s risk assessments for marketing claims must include both Federal Trade Commission guidelines and the patchwork of state laws governing those claims.
Previous restrictions on “biodegradable” and “compostable” marketing claims
Since 2013, section 42357 of the California Public Resources Code has restricted the types of environmental marketing claims that companies can place on the label of “plastic products”, defined as “a plastic product, alone or in combination with other materials â. Section 42357 provides that companies can label plastic products as âcompostableâ or âhome compostableâ only if these products meet one of two specific ASTM standards or have OK compost HOME certifications. In addition, section 42357 restricts the use of the terms âbiodegradableâ, âdegradableâ or âdecomposableâ. Public authorities argue that section 42357 completely prohibits the use of these terms, while some companies argue that these terms can be used on products that meet applicable standards and specifications.
Extension of restrictions to cover all consumer products
AB 1201 extends the existing restrictions in section 42357 so that they apply to every “consumer product”, broadly defined as “a product or part of a product that is used, purchased or leased to be used by a person for any purpose. However, the law contains a vague limitation that potentially exempts fiber products that do not incorporate any plastics or polymers. Notwithstanding this vague limitation, public authorities are likely to take the position that AB 1201 effectively prohibits the labeling of any consumer product sold in the state of California as “biodegradable”, “degradable” or “decomposable”. What is clear is that (with very limited exceptions) AB 1201 severely restricts when companies can market any consumer product as âcompostableâ or âhome compostableâ. Manufacturers and suppliers should also be prepared to provide documentation demonstrating a product’s compliance with AB 1201 within 90 days of a request by a member of the public.
Effect of AB 1201 and application
The impacts of AB 1201 are expected to be felt nationwide, as manufacturers are generally unable to separate the distribution of their products between California and the rest of the country. Any manufacturer who does not comply with AB 1201 risks legal action under UCL by public authorities – who can seek penalties of up to $ 2,500 per violation – or civil action by private authorities who can request an injunction and restitution under UCL; and an attorney fee under the California Private Attorney General Act. If the past is any indication of the future of enforcement action under AB 1201, California district attorneys have brought several actions regarding “biodegradable” claims on plastic products under the previous version. of section 42357 which led to six- or seven-digit settlements.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.
POPULAR ARTICLES ON: United States Environment