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ECM BioFilms Responds to FTC Complaint: Claims Agency Overlooked Credible Scientific Evidence and Its Own Rules

UPublish story by Les Proctor

ECM BioFilms Inc. (ECM) today announced that it would defend itself against an administrative complaint filed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) staff against the company. The FTC action alleges that ECM made misleading claims that plastic products produced utilizing ECM's additive technology are biodegradable after customary disposal under most conditions including landfills because ECM lacks proof that the product eliminates 100 percent of plastics within one year of application.

"We disagree with the charge," said ECM President Robert Sinclair. "We have the scientific evidence that plastic products manufactured with our additives will fully biodegrade in landfills that accept municipal solid waste and in reasonable periods of time. A reasonable timeframe for landfill biodegradation is not one year, as the FTC changed their Green Guides to read as of October 1 of last year, but can be as much as decades. Even though we vehemently disagree with this arbitrary one year limit for landfills, we changed our claims from the unqualified 'biodegradable' claim to qualified biodegradability claims last year right after the newly revised Green Guides came out. Now the FTC is going further and is disregarding the consensus scientific view, as expressed in the ASTM Standard Test Methods, that the results of these tests are reflective of what will occur in real-world landfills."

"The FTC overlooks landfills as an important source of renewable energy," added Sinclair.

In the United States, renewable energy from the capture and use of the landfill gases produced by anaerobic biodegradation is over eight times as great as all the solar power generated. Manufacturing plants and other institutions all over the U.S. and the world are using this energy source to replace the energy they would be using from non-renewable sources. An example of this trend is the GM Orion Assembly Plant near Detroit, Mich., that derives 40 percent of its total energy needs from landfill gas. Furthermore, this practice is promoted through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in their Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP). If all of the currently non-biodegradable plastics disposed of in landfills were instead biodegradable by incorporating ECM's additive technology, the renewable energy yield of these same landfill facilities would increase by over 20 percent.

An expert in the study of landfills, Dr. Ronald Sahu, performed an independent evaluation of the product and concluded that "biodegradation of plastics modified by ECM Additive is not only assured, it is unavoidable in municipal landfills." Dr. Sahu concluded that it is unquestionable that the ECM BioFilms' additive technology allows the microorganisms in all municipal landfills to biodegrade plastic products' polymer structure, causing a mass loss of plastic material by the biota's conversion of its hydrocarbons into biogases.

"We are a small, moderately successful company with an exciting product that is the right product at the right time, and we find ourselves in the crosshairs of an aggressive and arbitrary enforcement action by a regulatory agency that has somehow overlooked credible scientific evidence, as well as its own rules," Sinclair concluded. "In effect, should the FTC prevail, consumers and the environment lose."

ECM BioFilms is available online at

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