Amazon, Macy's, Sears Fined For False Bamboo Claims

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) seems to be serious  about stopping false green marketing claims – it fined four high-profile retailers for falsely claiming that clothing, fabrics and textiles were made from bamboo fiber.

Amazon.com, Leon Max, Macy’s and Sears (and its Kmart subsidiaries) have agreed to pay a total of $1.26 million in penalties to settle FTC’s claims that they violated the Textile Products Identification Act (Textile Act) and FTC’s Textile Rules.

The four retailers have been falsely labeling and advertising certain products as being made from bamboo when they were actually made of rayon, says the FTC.

Sears and Amazon are paying about $450,000 each compared to $250,000 for Macy’s and $80,00 for Leon Max because of the quantity of products sold and the length of time they continued to sell them after receiving a warning from FTC.

Products sold as "pure fiber 100 percent bamboo," or "bamboo" include infant crib sheets, men’s underwear and shirts.

The FTC has warned 78 companies about falsely labeling bamboo. 

"While so-called bamboo textiles often are promoted as environmentally friendly, the process for manufacturing rayon – even when it is made from bamboo – is far from a ‘green one’, " says the FTC.

The settlements announced in early January require the four companies to keep more thorough records that support future marketing or advertising claims related to bamboo content; they also must demonstrate better proof for products labels as anti-microbial, anti-bacterial or anti-fungal.

Last fall, the FTC made the first thorough update to its Green Guides since 1998.

The guidelines – approved unanimously – require marketers to better validate environmental claims. The rules covers phrases such non-toxic, biodegradable, compostable, VOC-free, recyclable, recycled, and made with renewable energy.

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