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Walmart, Kohl’s settle over ‘eco-friendly’ rayon products

NEW YORK (AP) – Walmart and Kohl’s are paying a combined USD5.5 million in settlements after the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said they falsely marketed dozens of sheets and other home textile products as made of environmentally friendly bamboo, when they were
actually rayon.

Kohl’s agreed to pay USD2.5 million and Walmart will pay USD3 million in the settlements, which stemmed from an FTC complaint that also included allegations of deceptive environmental claims. The companies touted the “bamboo” textiles as being made in an ecofriendly way, the commission said on Friday.

Rayon is a synthetic fibre that is made with plant cellulose, including bamboo, but the FTC noted the process “requires the use of toxic chemicals and results in hazardous pollutants”. FTC said that both retailers have marketed some of the “bamboo-derived” products as providing general environment benefits, such as being produced “free of harmful chemicals, using clean, non-toxic materials”.

“False environmental claims harm both consumers and honest businesses, and companies that greenwash can expect to pay a price,” said Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer ProtectionSamuel Levine in a statement.

Both retailers have been prohibited from making deceptive green claims or using other misleading advertising, the FTC said.

Kohl’s, based in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, and Walmart have each marketed at least two dozen items as made of bamboo in both product titles and descriptions for several years, the FTC said.

Walmart, which is based in Bentonville, Arkansas, said it takes the claims seriously.

“We hold ourselves accountable when issues like this are raised,” said Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove. “We have worked to strengthen our product description programmes and expect our suppliers to provide products that comply with all laws, including those around labelling. “

Kohl’s also said it continues to take the labelling regulations “seriously”.

The Federal Trade Commission building in Washington. PHOTO: AP