Degradable Claims

The FTC has made clear that degradability claims are deceptive if the item cannot completely decompose into elements found in nature within one year after customary disposal. Since most packaging is disposed of in landfills, incinerators and recycling facilities—which do not provide conditions where items can completely decompose within a year—claims such as degradable, biodegradable, oxo-degradable, oxo-biodegradable, or photodegradable are unqualified and therefore not acceptable.

Labeling tips

  • DON’T misrepresent, directly or by implication, that a package is degradable, biodegradable, oxo-degradable, oxobiodegradable, or photodegradable if it is customarily disposed of by incineration or landfill.
  • DON’T confuse “compostable” claims with “degradable” claims. While “degradable” claims are almost always deceptive, your packaging material may qualify for a “compostable” claim if accompanied by qualifying text. See Compostable Claims section for details.


Example/Claim Right or Wrong? Why?



Packaging is customarily disposed of in landfills, incineration facilities, or goes to recycling facilities where it will not decompose in the reasonably short period of time defined by the FTC as one year. FTC has not identified technical standards that marketers could follow to substantiate these types of claims (replicating the physical conditions found in landfills), thus these claims are unacceptable.