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FTC charges ‘bamboo-zling’

October 7th, 2009 / By: / Industry News

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has charged four sellers of clothing and other textile products with deceptively labeling and advertising items as made of bamboo fiber when they are actually made of rayon. The complaints also charge the companies with making false and unsubstantiated “green” claims that their clothing and textile products are manufactured using an environmentally friendly process, that they retain the natural antimicrobial properties of the bamboo plant, and that they are biodegradable.

Three of the companies—Sami Designs LLC, dba Jonäno; CSE Inc., dba Mad Mod; and Pure Bamboo LLC—have agreed to settlements that will ensure they use the proper names to label and advertise the fibers in their products and do not violate the Textile Fiber Products Identification Act (Textile Act) and Rules in the future.

“With the tremendous expansion of green claims in today’s marketplace, it is particularly important for the FTC to address deceptive environmental claims, so that consumers can trust that the products they buy have the environmentally friendly attributes they want,” said David Vladeck, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “When companies sell products woven from manmade fibers, such as rayon, it is important that they accurately label and advertise those products, both with respect to the fibers they use and to the qualities those fibers possess.”

According to the complaints, the companies falsely claim that their rayon clothing and other textile products are “100 percent bamboo fiber,” marketed under names such as ecoKashmere, Pure Bamboo, Bamboo Comfort, and BambooBaby. Rayon is a manmade fiber created from the cellulose found in plants and trees and processed with a harsh chemical that releases hazardous air pollutants. Any plant or tree could be used as the cellulose source—including bamboo—but the fiber that is created is rayon.

The complaints also allege that these four companies make a number of other “green” claims about their clothing and textile products, none of which are true. All four companies claim that their products retain the bamboo plant’s antimicrobial properties. The settling companies also claim that their products are made using environmentally friendly manufacturing processes, and both Pure Bamboo and Bamboosa make unqualified claims that their products are biodegradable.

Even if the rayon used in the companies’ clothing and textile products is manufactured using bamboo as the cellulose source, rayon does not retain any natural antimicrobial properties of the bamboo plant, since the manufacturing process eliminates any such natural properties.

The settlements bar these companies from claiming that any textile product is made of bamboo or bamboo fiber, but do allow the companies to describe their products as “rayon made from bamboo.” For more details, visit www.ftc.gov.

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