On Thursday (July 18, 2019), U.S. President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign announced a new product in his campaign shop: “recyclable” plastic straws. According to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Green Guides, “[m]arketers should qualify recyclable claims when recycling facilities are not available to at least 60% of the consumers or communities where a product is sold.”
Trump, in fact, calls his straws “recyclable” twice in the product listing, although under § 260.12 of the Green Guides, it is stated that “[a] product or package should not be marked recyclable unless it can be collected, separated, or otherwise recovered from the waste stream through an established recycling program for reuse or use in manufacturing or assembling another item.”
While it is very possible that these straws are made of a plastic resin that is technically recyclable, the shape and size of the straws renders them incompatible with most material recovery facility (MRF) recycling processes. Straws often fall through the cracks and crevices of recycling machinery, and as a result they are not effectively recycled.
FTC Green Guides state that “[i]f any component significantly limits the ability to recycle the item, any recyclable claim would be deceptive. An item that is made from recyclable material, but, because of its shape, size, or some other attribute, is not accepted in recycling programs, should not be marketed as recyclable.” These guidelines should apply to a product such as plastic straws.
It is due to these reasons that EPI finds Trump’s marketing claims of straw recyclability deceptive under U.S. Federal Trade Commission Green Guides and requests that further action be taken.