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Notice

N.E.W. Plastics Corp.; Analysis of Proposed Consent Order To Aid Public Comment

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

Federal Trade Commission.

ACTION:

Proposed consent agreement.

SUMMARY:

The consent agreement in this matter settles alleged violations of federal law prohibiting unfair or deceptive acts or practices. The attached Analysis of Proposed Consent Order to Aid Public Comment describes both the allegations in the draft complaint and the terms of the consent order—embodied in the consent agreement—that would settle these allegations.

DATES:

Comments must be received on or before March 24, 2014.

ADDRESSES:

Interested parties may file a comment at https://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/​ftc/​newplasticsconsent online or on paper, by following the instructions in the Request for Comment part of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section below. Write “N.E.W. Plastics Corp.,—Consent Agreement; File No. 132 3126” on your comment and file your comment online at https://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/​ftc/​newplasticsconsent by following the instructions on the web-based form. If you prefer to file your comment on paper, mail or deliver your comment to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Room H-113 (Annex D), 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20580.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Elisa Jillson, Bureau of Consumer Protection, (202-326-3001), 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20580.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Pursuant to Section 6(f) of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 U.S.C. 46(f), and FTC Rule 2.34, 16 CFR 2.34, notice is hereby given that the above-captioned consent agreement containing consent order to cease and desist, having been filed with and accepted, subject to final approval, by the Commission, has been placed on the public record for a period of thirty (30) days. The following Analysis to Aid Public Comment describes the terms of the consent agreement, and the allegations in the complaint. An electronic copy of the full text of the consent agreement package can be obtained from the FTC Home Page (for February 21, 2014), on the World Wide Web, at http://www.ftc.gov/​os/​actions.shtm. A paper Start Printed Page 11433copy can be obtained from the FTC Public Reference Room, Room 130-H, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20580, either in person or by calling (202) 326-2222.

You can file a comment online or on paper. For the Commission to consider your comment, we must receive it on or before March 24, 2014. Write “N.E.W. Plastics Corp.,—Consent Agreement; File No. 132 3126” on your comment. Your comment—including your name and your state—will be placed on the public record of this proceeding, including, to the extent practicable, on the public Commission Web site, at http://www.ftc.gov/​os/​publiccomments.shtm. As a matter of discretion, the Commission tries to remove individuals' home contact information from comments before placing them on the Commission Web site.

Because your comment will be made public, you are solely responsible for making sure that your comment does not include any sensitive personal information, like anyone's Social Security number, date of birth, driver's license number or other state identification number or foreign country equivalent, passport number, financial account number, or credit or debit card number. You are also solely responsible for making sure that your comment does not include any sensitive health information, like medical records or other individually identifiable health information. In addition, do not include any “[t]rade secret or any commercial or financial information which . . . is privileged or confidential,” as discussed in Section 6(f) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 46(f), and FTC Rule 4.10(a)(2), 16 CFR 4.10(a)(2). In particular, do not include competitively sensitive information such as costs, sales statistics, inventories, formulas, patterns, devices, manufacturing processes, or customer names.

If you want the Commission to give your comment confidential treatment, you must file it in paper form, with a request for confidential treatment, and you have to follow the procedure explained in FTC Rule 4.9(c), 16 CFR 4.9(c).[1] Your comment will be kept confidential only if the FTC General Counsel, in his or her sole discretion, grants your request in accordance with the law and the public interest.

Postal mail addressed to the Commission is subject to delay due to heightened security screening. As a result, we encourage you to submit your comments online. To make sure that the Commission considers your online comment, you must file it at https://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/​ftc/​newplasticsconsent by following the instructions on the web-based form. If this Notice appears at http://www.regulations.gov/​#!home, you also may file a comment through that Web site.

If you file your comment on paper, write “N.E.W. Plastics Corp.,—Consent Agreement; File No. 132 3126” on your comment and on the envelope, and mail or deliver it to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Room H-113 (Annex D), 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20580. If possible, submit your paper comment to the Commission by courier or overnight service.

Visit the Commission Web site at http://www.ftc.gov to read this Notice and the news release describing it. The FTC Act and other laws that the Commission administers permit the collection of public comments to consider and use in this proceeding as appropriate. The Commission will consider all timely and responsive public comments that it receives on or before March 24, 2014. You can find more information, including routine uses permitted by the Privacy Act, in the Commission's privacy policy, at http://www.ftc.gov/​ftc/​privacy.htm.

Analysis of Proposed Consent Order To Aid Public Comment

The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC” or “Commission”) has accepted, subject to final approval, an agreement containing a consent order from N.E.W. Plastics Corp., a corporation (“Respondent”).

The proposed consent order has been placed on the public record for thirty (30) days for receipt of comments by interested persons. Comments received during this period will become part of the public record. After thirty (30) days, the Commission will again review the agreement and the comments received, and will decide whether it should withdraw from the agreement or make final the agreement's proposed order.

This matter addresses allegedly deceptive green claims that Respondent made while promoting two brands of plastic lumber products, Evolve and Trimax, to retailers, independent distributors and end-use consumers. According to the FTC complaint, Respondent marketed (1) Evolve products as made from 90% or more recycled content; (2) Trimax products as made from mostly post-consumer recycled content; and (3) both Trimax and Evolve as recyclable. The complaint alleges first that each of these claims is false and misleading. It also alleges that Respondent did not possess or rely upon a reasonable basis to substantiate these representations. Finally, it alleges that Respondent provided its retailers and distributors with deceptive promotional materials, i.e., the means and instrumentalities to deceive consumers. Thus, the three-count complaint alleges that Respondent engaged in deceptive practices in violation of Section 5(a) of the FTC Act.

The proposed consent order contains several provisions designed to prevent Respondent from engaging in similar acts and practices in the future. Part I prohibits N.E.W. from making representations regarding the recycled content, the post-consumer recycled content, or the environmental benefit of any product or package unless they are true, not misleading, and substantiated by competent and reliable evidence. Part I further provides that if, in general, experts in the relevant scientific field would conclude it necessary, such evidence must be competent and reliable scientific evidence. Consistent with the Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims (“Green Guides”), 16 CFR 260.13(b), Part I specifically requires N.E.W. to substantiate recycled content claims by demonstrating that such recycled content is composed of materials that were recovered or otherwise diverted from the waste stream.

Part II prohibits N.E.W. from making an unqualified claim that any product or package is recyclable unless: (1) The item, excluding minor incidental components, can be recycled in an established recycling program, and (2) recycling facilities that accept the item are available to at least 60% of consumers or communities where it is sold. If recycling facilities are available to fewer than 60%, consistent with the Green Guides, 16 CFR 260.12(b), Part II requires N.E.W. to qualify its claim regarding the availability of recycling facilities. Part II requires such claims to be true, not misleading, and substantiated by competent and reliable evidence. It further provides that if, in general, experts in the relevant scientific field would conclude it necessary, such evidence must be competent and reliable scientific evidence. Finally, Part II provides that if Respondent promotes as recyclable at item that is only partially recyclable, Respondent must disclose the part or portion of the product or package that is recyclable.

Part III prohibits N.E.W. from providing others with the means and Start Printed Page 11434instrumentalities to make any false, unsubstantiated, or otherwise misleading representation of material fact regarding any product or package.

Part IV requires N.E.W. to deliver a letter to its distributors and retailers that instructs them to stop using Evolve and Trimax plastic lumber advertising and marketing materials provided by N.E.W. prior to December 2013. This requirement seeks to ensure that deceptive claims will be entirely removed from the market.

Parts V through IX are reporting and compliance provisions. Part V requires Respondent to keep (and make available to the Commission on request): Copies of advertisements and promotional materials containing the representations covered by the order; materials relied upon in disseminating those representations; evidence that contradicts, qualifies, or calls into question the representations, or the basis relied upon for the representations. Part VI requires dissemination of the order now and in the future to principals, officers, directors, and managers, and to all current and future employees, agents, and representatives having responsibilities relating to the subject matter of the order. It also requires Respondent to maintain and make available to the FTC all acknowledgments of receipt of the order. Part VII requires notification to the FTC of changes in corporate status. Part VIII mandates that Respondent submit an initial compliance report to the FTC and make available to the FTC subsequent reports. Part IX is a provision terminating the order after twenty (20) years, with certain exceptions.

The purpose of this analysis is to aid public comment on the proposed consent order. It is not intended to constitute an official interpretation of the proposed order or to modify its terms in any way.

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By direction of the Commission.

Donald S. Clark,

Secretary.

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Footnotes

1.  In particular, the written request for confidential treatment that accompanies the comment must include the factual and legal basis for the request, and must identify the specific portions of the comment to be withheld from the public record. See FTC Rule 4.9(c), 16 CFR 4.9(c).

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[FR Doc. 2014-04380 Filed 2-27-14; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 6750-01-P