FTC sues Walmart, accuses it of falsely advertising items as “bamboo”
- The FTC is suing Walmart on charges of falsely marketing some of its products.
- The Commission filed the lawsuit in the District of Columbia on Friday.
- According to the FTC, some of the products in question were made of rayon, not bamboo.
The Federal Trade Commission is suing Walmart over charges that the retailer falsely claimed some of its products were made from bamboo or provided an environmental benefit.
According to the lawsuit, the FTC alleged that Walmart’s marketing and sale of its textile fiber products, including towels, bedding and bras, misrepresented their material as “bamboo,” while in fact they were rayon.
Rayon is the name given to a type of fiber regenerated or made from cellulose, the lawsuit states. It is made by taking “purified cellulose” from a plant source and converting it into a liquid solution by mixing it with chemicals. The chemical solution then solidifies where it turns into fibers.
“Regardless of the source of the cellulose, the manufacturing process involves the use of hazardous chemicals, and the resulting fiber is rayon, not cotton, wood, or bamboo fiber,” the suit reads.
Some of the products that the FTC alleges Walmart falsely advertised online were displayed in the lawsuit. They include an “Ottoson Luxury Bamboo Bath Towel Set” which lists the fiber content as “100% Bamboo”.
The retailer also advertised that products it says are made from bamboo are “eco-friendly” and “in harmony with nature,” while the FTC says it’s not because hazardous air pollutants are emitted by the rayon manufacturing process.
Walmart did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment made outside of normal working hours.
The retailer was warned by the FTC in the past about its improper labeling, but the retailer did next to nothing, according to the lawsuit. In 2010, the FTC sent a letter explaining that the term “bamboo” can only be used in the labeling or advertising of textile products made from fibers directly extracted from the bamboo plant.
He also told Walmart that rayon must be described in its product labeling, according to the lawsuit. Walmart “has engaged in its illegal acts and practices repeatedly over a period of at least five years,” he added.
This isn’t the only lawsuit Walmart has been embroiled in over the past year. Last December, a South Carolina jury ordered the retailer to pay $10 million to a woman who said she lost part of her leg after stepping on a rusty nail while shopping at the store.
Then, in March, Walmart sued BJ’s Wholesale Club over self-checkout technology.