Though warned to stop in 2010, four major U.S. retailers continued to sell textile products labeled as being made of environmentally friendly bamboo, while they were actually made of not environmentally friendly at all rayon. Now those retailers will pay $1.26 million for the deception.
Faced with Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charges of violating the Textile Products Identification Act, national retailers Sears, Macy's, Amazon and Leon Max have agreed to pay a combined total of $1.26 million in civil penalties.
According to the FTC charges, the retailers were sent warning letters in 2010, but continued to advertise and sell in their stores and online catalogs products as being made of bamboo, an "environmentally friendly" material, when in reality the products were made of rayon produced from bamboo. As the FTC notes, "the process for manufacturing rayon -- even when it is made from bamboo - is far from a 'green' one."
"When attempting to appeal to environmentally conscious consumers, companies need to ensure they don't cross the line into misleading labeling and advertising," said Charles Harwood, Acting Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection in a press release. "If a textile is made of rayon, sellers need to say that, even if bamboo was used somewhere along the line in the production process."
Based on how long they continued to mislabel the products after being warned, the companies agreed to pay the following civil penalties to settle the FTC's charges: Sears ($475,000), Amazon ($455,000), Macy's ($250,000), and Leon Max ($80,000).
As part of their settlement with the FTC, the companies also agreed to ensure that the labels for the bamboo textiles they sell accurately indicate their fiber content.