Plastics semantics and words we can’t use in California


As a writer and journalist for the plastics industry, words are pretty important to me. That’s why I find the continued disagreements over the use of certain words in describing certain types of plastic materials disconcerting, if not rather silly.

Last week I received an e-mail from Danny Clark, the president of ENSO Plastics in Phoenix, letting me know the latest from his company, which brings biodegradable technology to the plastics packaging industry. Companies that produce specialty bottled water and other packaging use ENSO’s plastic material, which “accelerates the natural biodegradation of plastics in biologically active landfills and anaerobic digesters as validated by certified laboratories using ASTM International test methods (ASTMD5526 and D5511).”

In November 2011, I wrote a news item regarding the lawsuit that California’s Attorney General filed against ENSO and California-based water company Aquamantra as well as Balance Water in West Orange, NJ. It seems the AG had a problem with the words “biode-gradable,” “degradable,” and “compostable” in the advertising of their products. The companies were accused of “deceptive labeling” in violation of a 2008 bill prohibiting the use of those words on plastic food and beverage containers. (
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