• FTC Warns 78 Companies About Advertising "Bamboo" Products
  • March 26, 2010
  • Law Firm: Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP - Los Angeles Office
  • The Federal Trade Commission sent letters to 78 companies warning them that they could be breaking the law by selling clothing and other textile products labeled and advertised as “bamboo,” but which are actually made of manufactured rayon fiber.

    Recipients included national retailers such as Bloomingdale’s, Kohl’s, Lands’ End, Nordstrom, REI, and Target.

    “We need to make sure companies use proper labeling and advertising in their efforts to appeal to environmentally conscious consumers,” David C. Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. “Rayon is rayon, even if bamboo has been used somewhere along the line in the manufacturing process.”

    Rayon is a man-made fiber created from the cellulose found in all plants and trees - not just bamboo - and unless a product is made directly with bamboo fiber, it can’t be called bamboo, the letter explains.

    “Rayon, even if manufactured using cellulose from bamboo, must be properly described using an appropriate term recognized under the FTC’s Textile Rules,” the letter said.

    The letter warns companies about four enforcement actions the FTC brought in 2009 against companies for selling rayon products misleadingly labeled and advertised as bamboo. It also cautioned recipients that a violation of the FTC Act, by failing to use proper fiber names in textile labeling and advertising, could cost up to $16,000 per violation.

    Why it matters: The warning letters, coming on the heels of last year’s enforcement actions, are the latest example of the FTC’s regulation of “green” marketing or other environmentally friendly claims. Companies should review the FTC’s environmental marketing guidelines and/or the Textile Rules carefully when making and substantiating a “green” claim.