On June 2, 2010, the California State Senate passed a bill known as SB 1454 that makes it illegal to use the terms “biodegradable,” “degradable” or “decomposable” or any similar term in advertising plastic products.  The reasoning behind this prohibition, according to the legislative findings, is the promotion of a public policy that requires environmental marketing claims “be substantiated by competent and reliable evidence to prevent deceiving or misleading consumers about the environmental impact of plastic products.”  The only terms relating to the green attributes of a plastic product that are expressly permitted in advertising, under the proposed legislation, are “compostable” and “marine degradable;” provided, however, that at the time of sale the plastic product bearing such term shall meet the applicable American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standard specification approved by the Legislature (all such approved standard specifications being set forth in the bill).

The California State Assembly began considering SB 1454 shortly after passage by the Senate and has amended the bill several times since then, the most recently having occurred on August 16, 2010.  The bill passed by the State Senate, as amended from the original bill introduced on February 19, 2010, and the various legislative amendments put forth by the Assembly may be viewed by logging onto the California State Legislature’s website.