Retailers Pay Penalties for Labeling Rayon Textiles as Bamboo
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) proposed court orders barring four national retailers— Nordstrom, Bed Bath & Beyond, Backcountry.com and J.C. Penney—from mislabeling and advertising rayon textiles as "made of bamboo," and required the companies to pay civil penalties totaling $1.3 million.
According to a press release from the FTC, Bed Bath & Beyond will pay $500,000; Nordstrom Inc. will pay $360,000; J.C. Penney Co. Inc. will pay $290,000; and Backcountry.com LLC will pay $150,000 for violating the FTC Act and the FTC's Textile Rules.
Jessica Rich, director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, told the FTC that the brands misled consumers by billing bamboo that has been chemically processed into rayon as simply "bamboo."
"With consumers in the midst of their holiday shopping, it's important for them to know that textiles marketed as environmentally friendly alternatives may not be as 'green' as they were led to believe," she said.
Bed Bath & Beyond's mislabeled items included dozens of "bamboo" textiles intended for small children through its subsidiary, buybuy BABY.
Nordstrom sold a dress and long-sleeved T-shirt that it labeled as bamboo.
J.C. Penney and Backcountry.com both sold men's socks falsely billed as bamboo, and claimed that the "bamboo" gave the products antimicrobial properties.
The FTC alleged that the four companies broke the law by misrepresenting or mislabeling rayon products, despite receiving warning letters from the FTC in 2010 and explanations of previous litigation against marketers that had done the same. The FTC charged the companies with violating the Textile Act and the Textile Rules, and with violating Section 5(m)(1)(B) of the FTC Act by falsely and deceptively selling mislabeled products while knowing that doing so was illegal and could subject them to penalties.
The FTC is sending letters to other retailers to help protect consumers from false "bamboo" labels, especially during the holiday shopping season, by advising retailers to check their own inventories and ensure proper labeling and advertising.
For more information, visit www.ftc.gov.