Compliance with California Law Regarding Use of Term 'Biodegradable'


Dear Partners and Resellers,

As an FP International customer who sells or may sell our products in California, we'd like to provide an explanation to you about the current climate of the environmental movement in California and our actions in response to recent changes in the law.

The California legislature passed a law (SB567), effective January 1, 2013, that prohibits selling a plastic product in California labeled with the term 'biodegradable' or any similar term. The legislature took the position that there is no way to provide an adequate disclaimer qualifying the use of the term 'biodegradable,' or a term that suggests degradability, without relying on an established scientific standard specification. As such, the legislature determined that the use of these terms must be prohibited unless, or until the time as there is established, an American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standard specification for the term claimed that has been approved by the legislature.

Since the passing of this law, FP International has been working with the Plastics Environmental Council (PEC), which has been working with a variety of other groups and individuals, including North Carolina State University and Georgia Tech, to develop an appropriate standard specification for adoption by the ASTM. This is normally an extremely lengthy process, but through the diligence of many individuals representing a broad spectrum of views, it appears that the standard will be adopted in early 2013.

Since an ASTM specification is not yet finalized, it was impossible to obtain legislative approval prior to the January 1, 2013, deadline. Once the ASTM standard is passed, and a new law established, it will be necessary to conduct tests according to the ASTM standard specifications. The testing procedure will likely take at least 6-9 months. Although we have third party testing showing that our products do biodegrade, this is not sufficient in California for FP or anyone else to label plastics as 'biodegradable' in California because the California legislature has imposed new requirements that for now are impossible to meet. So, until the California legislature adopts the new ASTM standard and subsequent testing is performed, FP and others are unable to label their plastic products as 'biodegradable' in California for at least the first half of 2013 and possibly longer.

This applies only to sales in California and does not mean that FP cannot describe its products as 'biodegradable' in the rest of the country. But as of January 1, 2013 FP will not sell in California products labeled 'biodegradable', and our partners and resellers also may not sell FP products in California that are labeled 'biodegradable'. You may instead sell our 'green' products not labeled 'biodegradable' or any of our standard products in California. Please contact your local FP Sales Representative for more information.

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we go through these changes while this new law is being implemented and new standards developed.

FP International

For more information please see: FAQ on California laws on biodegradability