Last week, the California Attorney General brought its first suit under California’s environmental marketing law, which restricts the labeling of plastic food or beverage containers as “biodegradable.” The Attorney General claims that a plastics company’s statements that its microbial additive results in the “first truly biodegradable and recyclable” plastic bottle and that the bottle will break down in less than five years in a typical landfill or compost environment is false because it takes hundreds of years for plastics to biodegrade.  In addition, the Attorney General claims that the company’s recycling claim is deceptive because the Association of Post Consumer Plastic Recyclers considers the company’s microbial additive to be a “destructive contaminant” that can weaken the bottle’s strength.  The company has responded that it stands by its technology and it claims.

The law, which will expand to cover all plastic products beginning in 2013, could discourage companies from developing innovative environmental solutions, since the law effectively prohibits companies from making certain environmental claims about their products.