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Ten states stop disposable diaper claims

NEW YORK -- The attorneys general of 10 states have reached an agreement with Proctor & Gamble Co. that stops the company from claiming its 'Luvs' and 'Pampers' disposable diapers are easily biodegradable, N.Y. Attorney General Robert Abrams reported Thursday.

Abrams said the company's advertisements 'create the overall impression that the diapers are complete biodegradable.'

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'The misleading advertising made it appear to consumers that they need not worry about the solid waste problems posed by disposable diapers because they will somehow turn into environmentally benign dirt in a matter of months,' he said.

As part of Thursday's agreement, Proctor & Gamble must provide the l0 attorneys general, on request, with any materials or evidence used to substantiate its advertising claims.

The Cincinnati-based company agreed to pay the 10 states a total of $50,000 and signed the agreement without admitting wrongdoing,' Abrams said.

The others states involved in the action are California, Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin.

One magazine advertisment depicted a hand holding a pile of soil under a banner headline that said, 'Ninety days ago this was a disposable diaper,' Abrams said.

Labels on free samples of Luvs stated: 'Environmental information ... This product is compostable in municipal composting units,' he said.

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Abrams said only after reading 155 words of ad copy could consumers learn that the diapers can be only partially converted to 'soil enhancer' through a process called 'accelerated composting,' and diapers are not 100 percent compostable.

He said facilities for solid waste composting exist in only 10 communities nationwide and that composting 'is an infant industry, which makes the company's composting claims virtually untrue for most of the nation's consumers.'

'To make an environmentally informed choice, consumers need truthful and accurate information, not slogans aimed at making them feel good,' Abrams said.

'By promoting their disposable diapers as compostable, when facilities that accept diapers for composting are vitually unavailable, Procter & Gamble is deceiving consumers who are concerned about trade- offs between using disposable diapers and limiting solid waste,' he said.

New York State has no solid waste composting facilities at all, Abrams noted, adding that 'constructing such a facility would cost millions of dollars.'

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