Monday, August 3, 2015

The Reliability of Biodegradation

The United States makes over 200 million tons of garbage each year. That is 400,000,000,000 pounds of garbage, weighing more than one million adult blue whales!

In order to reduce the amount of waste going into landfills, there have been large-scale campaigns to increase recycling of consumer materials. Consumers have become more aware of their waste production as of late, and many companies use branding on their products in order to appeal to the ecological awareness of their consumers. Some of these branding campaigns do not live up to the consumer’s interpretation. The one example I want to focus on is product packaging labeled as ‘biodegradable’.

Landfills have numerous stipulations imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that require the landfills to reduce sunlight, air, and moisture, and prevent contaminants from reaching groundwater. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires packaging labeled as ‘biodegradable’ to completely decompose within a reasonably short period under customary methods of disposal. Due to the way landfills are presently designed, many items such as biodegradable packaging will not break down. This fact in addition to the lack of supportive evidence for these companies’ claims has resulted in the FTC going after companies with misleading environmentally friendly marketing. Despite the legal recourse, many companies continue to mislead or lie to their consumers.

There are a lot companies that are making an effort to be environmentally responsible due to the increase in consumer demand for it. But be aware that many of these claims are not supported or are misleading due to the nature of their use. By reading into misleading labels and determining how your purchases and consumption affect waste production, you will help protect the environment while being a more informed consumer and advocate for moral business practices.

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