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Sunday, January 19, 2014

ENVIRONMENTALLY CONSCIOUS DIAPER COMPANY SETTLES FTC DECEPTIVE CLAIMS CHARGES

FROM:  FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION 
Down to Earth Designs, Inc. Settles FTC Charges That Its Environmental Claims for Diapers and Related Products Were Deceptive
Order Requires Company to Substantiate a Range of “Green” Claims for its gDiapers Products

Portland, Oregon-based Down to Earth Designs, Inc., which does business as gDiapers, has settled Federal Trade Commission charges that it made deceptive claims about its products’ biodegradability, compostability, and other environmentally friendly attributes. The proposed settlement order bars gDiapers from making claims alleged in the complaint, unless they are true and not misleading, are adequately substantiated, and meet specific requirements in the FTC’s recently revised Green Guides.

gDiapers markets and sells the gDiapers diaper system, which includes a reusable outer shell (gPants) and disposable pad inner liners (gRefills), as well as baby wipes (gWipes). According to the FTC’s complaint, the company advertised both gRefills and gWipes as biodegradable and compostable. The company also claimed that gDiapers diapers were plastic-free, and that disposing of gRefills by flushing them down the toilet was environmentally beneficial.

“Whether they’re buying diapers or dishwashers, consumers base their purchasing decisions on claims about a product’s attributes,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “And the claims for these diapers just didn’t pass our smell test. Consumers can count on the FTC to make sure claims made by marketers are meeting the standards for truthfulness, accuracy, and substantiation.”

The FTC’s complaint alleges that the company made false or misleading representations in marketing gRefills and gWipes as biodegradable. These representations include claims that: the products are “100% biodegradable” and “certified” biodegradable; gRefills and gWipes will biodegrade when tossed in the trash; gRefills will biodegrade when flushed; and gRefills offer an environmental benefit because they can be flushed. In fact, the complaint alleges, gRefills and gWipes are not biodegradable because they do no completely break down and decompose into elements found in nature within one year after customary disposal, which is in the trash.