Public Resources Code – PRC § 42355

The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:

(a) Littered plastic products have caused and continue to cause significant environmental harm and have burdened local governments with significant environmental cleanup costs.

(b) It is the intent of the Legislature to ensure that environmental marketing claims, including claims of biodegradation, do not lead to an increase in environmental harm associated with plastic litter by providing consumers with a false belief that certain plastic products are less harmful to the environment if littered.

(c) A product’s ability to biodegrade is a function of both the physical and chemical makeup of the product as well as the environmental conditions to which it is subject.

(d) Use of the term “degradable,” “biodegradable,” “decomposable,” or other like terms on plastic products is inherently misleading unless the claim includes a thorough disclaimer providing necessary qualifying details, including, but not limited to, the environments and timeframes in which the claimed action will take place.

(e) Given the complex nature of biodegradation and the fact that most plastic products will travel through multiple environments from the time of manufacture to the time of final disposition, and given the intrinsic constraints of marketing claims, including the space on the plastic product, there is no reasonable ability for plastic product manufacturers to provide an adequate disclaimer qualifying the use of these and like terms without relying on an established scientific standard specification for the action claimed.

(f) Given these and other constraints, and the significant environmental harm that is caused by plastic litter, 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.