SB 1454 (DeSaulnier) - Truthful Environmental Advertising in Plastics


Summary.
SB 1454 expands the scope of current plastic end-of-life claim labeling requirements from bags and food packaging to all plastic products.  SB 1454 prevents consumer deception by tying end-of-life claims to pass/fail technical standards (called “ASTM standard specifications”) and explicitly prohibits inherently misleading and dishonest claims, like “biodegradable”.

Position and Status.
CAW Supports. SB 1454 was vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger Sep 28.  Previously, the bill passed off the Senate Floor Aug 25 with a 24-7 vote, passed off the Assembly floor Aug 23 with a 42-28 vote, passed out of Assembly Appropriations Committee on Aug 4 with an 11-5 vote, passed out of Judiciary Committee June 23 with a 7-3 vote, passed out of Assembly Natural Resources June 21 with a 6-0 vote, passed off the Senate Floor June 2 with a 26-8 vote, passed out of Sen APPR May 10 with a 7-1 vote, passed out of Sen EQ Apr 19 with a unanimous vote and was introduced Mar 25.

Description.
Due to the exceptional harm caused by plastics litter, and the increase in littering associated with labeling a product as "biodegradable", end-of-life labeling of plastics warrants special attention.  "Biodegradable" is an inherently deceptive claim for plastic products as "biodegradable" denotes that a product will completely break down in a short time period.  Plastic products do not meet that threshold.  SB 1454 restricts the labeling of plastics as "biodegradable", regardless of plastic type, and allows only verifiable claims that do not deceive consumers.  SB 1454 expands the scope of current California law prohibiting the labeling of plastic bags and food packaging as "biodegradable" to all plastics products from just bags and food packaging.  Current law (PRC §42355-9; last amended in AB 1972 DeSaulnier 2008; originially adopted in SB 1749 Karnette 2004) applies to bags and food packaging and explicitly prohibits "biodegradable" and other inherently deceptive claims that are implicitly in violation of federal environmental advertising guidelines ("FTC Green Guides").  Current law ties testable and legitimate end-of-life claims to pass-or-fail tests called “ASTM standard specifications”, such as ASTM standard specification D6400 for “compostable”.  This prevents consumer deception and guards against common abuse of lesser standards, such as manipulating ASTM test methods (which are not pass/fail tests) to make deceptive claims.  “Biodegradable in a landfill” is also an inherently deceptive and unverifiable claim for which no ASTM standard specification exists because degradation in landfills is inhibited, in most landfills by design in order to prevent the formation of the powerful greenhouse gas methane.  SB 1454 expands these provisions to apply to all plastic products.

CAW Staff Contacts.
Mark Murray (916) 443-5422

Senator Mark DeSaulnier
State Capitol, Sacramento, CA 95814

Current Language, Analyses and Votes.

Supporters.
Californians Against Waste (Sponsor)
Association of Post-Consumer Plastic Recyclers
Biodegradable Products Institute
City and County of San Francisco
California Resources Recovery Association
Clean Water Action
Heritage Bag
Metabolix
Natureworks
Natural Resources Defense Council
Talco Plastics

Opposition.
Green Genius