FTC takes Green Lumber Seriously, American Plastic Lumber Taken to Wood Shed

FTC Takes Plastic Lumber Manufacturers to the Wood Shed for Misleading Green Claims
By Leonard Gordon and Michael S. Isselin on July 21, 2014

While enjoying these lovely summer days, did you ever wonder how many milk jugs or detergent bottles went into making that “green” picnic table you’re sitting at? You may now. The already peculiar concept of “plastic lumber” is further complicated when manufacturers make false statements about its contents. As new products emerge touting environmental attributes, the FTC continues to warn manufacturers, distributers, and marketers of environmentally-friendly products against misleading consumers as to how “green” the product is.

In two recent cases, the FTC took aim at a plastic lumber marketer and a manufacturer, both advertising and marketing products said to be made (almost) entirely of recycled plastics. Both companies have now settled with the FTC and are prohibited from making such misleading representations.

American Plastic Lumber and FTC

On Thursday, the FTC settled with Engineered Plastics Systems, LLC (“EPS”), a manufacturer, advertiser, and distributer of plastic lumber products such as picnic tables and benches. In its complaint, the FTC alleged that EPS’s advertisements and marketing materials deceived consumers into believing the plastic lumber products were made entirely of recycled plastic. For example, the materials read “Made entirely of recycled plastic lumber” and “All recycled plastic design.” According to the FTC, these representations would lead the average consumer to believe that the products were composed entirely of, or almost entirely of, recycled plastic, however, the FTC found that the products contained an average of only 72 percent recycled plastic. This deceptive and misleading conduct, in violation of the FTC Act, put EPS in hot water with the FTC.

Under the settlement, EPS is prohibited from making similar claims that deceive consumers, and EPS must ensure claims are true, not misleading, and substantiated by proper evidence before stating information about recycled contents or environmental benefits of a product (or packaging). Additionally, EPS may be required to provide scientific research to verify its claims, and must give evidence that the materials used were taken from the waste stream according to the FTC’s “Green Guides for Environmental Marketing.”

The EPS settlement came less than a month after the FTC settled a similar case with American Plastic Lumber, Inc. (“APL”). Like EPS, APL distributes plastic lumber products such as picnic tables, benches, and speed bumps. APL hit a speed bump of its own after the FTC alleged its advertising and marketing materials deceived consumers into believing the products were made of virtually all recycled plastic. In fact, APL’s products averaged less than 79 percent of recycled plastic, and the FTC found no recycled content at all in nearly eight percent of APL’s products.

Similar to EPS, the settlement prohibits APL from making false representations about the recycled content of its products unless it is true, not misleading, and is backed up with evidence. APL is also required to maintain and make advertisements and marketing materials with claims covered by the settlement available to the FTC for five years.

These cases confirm that Green Claims remain a priority at the FTC. As “green” products continue to hit the market, the FTC continues to enforce its “Green Guides” and pursue “green” claims through consent orders with the violating companies without providing consumer redress. To avoid deceptive pitfalls, companies advertising and marketing products with recycled content should carefully review the FTC’s “Green Guides.” Otherwise, you might end up in the FTC woodshed.

Using an online sourcing guide to locate a new supplier may be a better alternate over Google

Should you use an online sourcing guide?

If you are looking for better search results as an alternate to using Bing or Google for commercial searches, consider using one of the large Sourcing Guides. Though Google search does provide a great number of possible suppliers, the results include any supplier, regardless of location, quality of materials, or if a supplier or not. Many professional purchasing agents have switched to business friendly online industrial discovery guides.

At the beginning of the internet as we know it, web searching was very limited, Google was not born yet. These searches were very limited at best back then, and was limited to searching your BBS or local service provider, think AOL. Now days, the average searcher uses either Bing, Yahoo or Google for searching. The small professional business sourcing providers like Thomas Net, BrownBook or MacRaes Blue Book handle the commercial markets extremely well.

With Bing and Google delivering a broad range of search results, and for those that need a highly specific and local company, the large business directories have done very well. Searching the big 3 gives you about the same range of results. The commercial types of search providers do some investigation of their advertisers prior to adding them to search results. The focus seems to be quality versus quantity as far as sources are concerned.

What a ThomasNet Search Result Looks Like

ThomasNet Search Screen

ThomasNet Sourcing Guide

If you are searching online using an industrial guide, you might get significantly better results versus searching with Google. While Google does provide a massive listings of results, this group of results may include suppliers, YouTube videos, model makers or small business that may be  running from a personal garage or E-bay store, with no regard to location or quality of products. The Industrial Supplier Sourcing Guides sort suppliers by State, and then provide a detailed company profile on each supplier.

Let’s look at an example of the differences between a Google search and a ThomasNet search for the same items.

  • Searching Google for Natural UHMW Rod yields 359,000 results, but ThomasNet delivers just actual 59 manufacturers and wholesale suppliers.
  • Need Delrin Rod, Google spits out a whopping 417,000 results, while ThomasNet delivers just 64 quality producers and stocking suppliers.
  • Do a search on Google for PVC round rod and get 644,000 results, and ThomasNet supplies 88 results in the full USA search.

ThomasNet does not deliver any ‘Mom and Pop’ style companies, YouTube videos of UHMW sheet or rod used for a high school students skateboard wheels, nor any stories of how a mechanic fixed a car using a sliver of UHMW rod.

ThomasNet only provides real companies with real materials that can supply the specified materials. Many of the biggest names in industry use ThomasNet and/or MacRae’s Blue Book as a sourcing platform.

MacRAE's Blue Book Search Results Page

MacRAE’s Blue Book Search Results Page

Why do reputable companies pick the best Industrial Sourcing Guides? The easy answer is excellent results.

Buyers of industrial materials don’t want to sort through 10’s of thousands of results to find a supplier that carries and stocks the item they search for. Using an Industrial Supplier Sourcing Platform saves a huge amount of time and effort in finding the required items. Buyers find the unique commercial material, and move on to the next item they need to buy. No wasted clicking on ‘How to move a freezer’ video, no ‘I rolled my Jacuzzi on UHMW rods to the back yard’ stories.

Just real suppliers of the specific items you may be searching for.

Try one of the many Industrial Supplier Sourcing Platforms for your next commercial material search.

Topic: ThomasNet Supplier Sourcing Platform

Why Use Dupont Delrin Instead of Copolymer Acetal Rod

Is Dupont Delrin the same as Acetal CoPolymer?

The best answer is NO, but both have similar properties.

The Copolymer Acetal is the common name for one of the largest families of thermoplastics, with a chemical name of POM or PolyOxyMethylene. Acetal comes in two standard grades: the first is the Copolymer acetal, or POM-C. The second type is homopolymer acetal, or POM-H; in the industry this is called Delrin®, which is a resin produced by Dupont. These two types of acetal has its very own set of advantages and drawbacks, and yet they are similar in many aspects.Machined Acetal Rod Part

Why You Might Choose Acetal Copolymer

The Acetal copolymer type has many unusual qualities and exhibits outstanding performance at a slightly lower cost than the Dupont Delrin® brand material. Acetal copolymer has uniform consistency throughout the material, with no center line porosity. It also has a reduced stress level, as well as  a very high dimensional stability, it can also be used with a continuous temperature of 180° deg; F (80 deg; C).  The copolymer acetal grades meet the FDA, USDA, NSF, and 3-A Dairy compliant. Acetal copolymer materials are stocked and available in a wide variety of sizes, and also can be supplied in a variety of standard and special colors, including: natural, black, blue, red, yellow, green, brownish, and also grey (some may require minimums).

Some Important Factors Of Delrin Homopolymer:Chemical make up of Dupont Delrin Materials

The Dupont Delrin grade of material has a better dimensional stability as a result of a low level of crystallinity. The resistance to temperatures give Delrin better resistance to hot water and also many chemicals, especially high pH (standard). The Delrin has a lower coefficient of friction and a very low water absorption, especially in wet environments.

Dupont Delrin Acetal Homopolymer

The Dupont Delrin® 150SA is the most recognized form of the acetal homopolymer grades, and it offers a higher mechanical strength than acetal copolymer, but is known to have reduced density at center, and it is referred to as porous center line. This is especially true in thicker or large cross-sections. The Dupont Delrin® rods and sheeting materials are likewise somewhat less chemical resistance compared to copolymer acetal rod and plate. For instance, Delrin® is ideal for small and thin walled bushings and molded parts, and can provide excellent toughness and rigidity, typical of homopolymer acetal. Dupont Delrin® is produced and stocked in natural and black colors. The most common version of  the Dupont Delrin is the Delrin 150SA Sheet and Rod material, extruded from this Dupont resin.

Various other advantages over copolymer acetal are:Dupont Delrin and Copolymer Acetal Rods

Acetal Copolymer has a greater consistency or tolerance control, with a higher flexural modulus at higher temperature and raised temperature applications. It has a slightly higher tensile and a higher wear resistance at room temperature levels and also better wear at lower temperatures. The Copolymer Acetal is a bit harder,  and thus gives the homopolymer Acetal a reduced coefficient of friction.

A great choice for many demanding applications, Dupont Delrin® 150SA round rod and sheeting can be compared favorably to the acetal copolymer. And is some applications these two Acetal materials could be exchanged without loss of performance due to the fact that most physical properties are within approximately 8 % of each other. Perhaps the most notable difference between the Dupont Delrin® rod and copolymer acetal rod is the soft center of Delrin, commonly known as centerline porosity, which is an unfortunate issue with the Homopolymer Delrin®. This centerline problem is most obvious in a thick plate, and at the center of large diameter Delrin rod stock. Visually the Delrin centerline is clearly obvious around the center section of a rod, which extends through the entire rod length. In the Dupont Delrin sheeting material, the porous center is visible in a line along the center of the thickness, and along the full edge of a sheet. In most cases, the sheeting might even look laminated or glued together. In some cases the excessive porosity at centerline is unwanted for the following factors:

  • Can compromise the mechanical and engineering integrity
  • Aesthetically – inconsistent color in look on a finished part
  • Can present a path for leakage of water, gas and liquids
  • Can provide areas where microorganisms can grow in food handling applications

The reason for this center line issue is actually a normal outgassing of the Delrin resin during manufacturing. As the material proceeds through the extrusion process, the exterior of the sheet cools prior to the inside, trapping any outgassing from the resin. As the interior material cools, there is an equivalent reduction of volume. Because of the volume change of the form is restricted as a result of the solidified skin, gaps form to make up for the loss of interior volume. In most applications, the Dupont Delrin Sheet and Rod works well, even when factoring in the center line issue.

Huge New Acetal Rod Produced By Gehr Plastics

Gehr Plastics Throws Down The Gauntlet

Huge new Acetal Copolymer Rod is over 24″ in diameter, a full 600mm. This is the largest Acetal rod now made in the World.

Huge Acetal Copolymer Rod, Over 24

Read about this large plastic rod material in the Press Release about ‘Huge Acetal Rod’.

For years, the major producers of Acetal rods have been ‘competing’ for the title of ‘Largest Acetal Rod’. Last year, Z/L Plastics started their production of 500mm or 19.75″ diameter Acetal Homopolymer and Acetal Copolymer Rods. These were the biggest materials available in the marketplace until this months news from Gehr Plastics. They announced this record size production at this years IAPD 2015 convention in San Diego (Sept 22 – 25, 2015).

Many ask ‘Why would anyone need Acetal Rod in this large of a diameter?”, and the answer is that producing a round finished part from rod is much cheaper and environmentally friendly than cutting from sheet stock. Cutting a round part from a flat sheet wastes over 35% of the material, and requires much more machining time. It is always best to investigate the best sizes of materials before beginning the machining process. Plastics manufacturers now make a huge range of plastic sheets, rods and tubes, which enable the end user to pick the most appropriate size for a specific application with the least amount of waste.

There are many excellent suppliers of these materials, and some truly fine experts with great insight into the industry. Consider not only looking at large suppliers, perhaps the best suppliers are those that care about providing informing and educating clients. The Plastic Mentor blog boasts the most experienced ‘Plasticologists’ in the industry, and offer dozens of insightful articles to assist those looking for the proper plastic materials. Other sites focus on specific types or grades of materials, including High Tech Plastics which is an online store for performance plastics in full sizes, cut to size and remnant pieces of the high end plastic materials.

It is best to do a fair amount of research prior to making a decision. With over 80 common performance plastics available, and dozens of sizes in several shapes, the width and breadth of materials in massive. Ask the experts for assistance, most offer toll free numbers directly to the most experienced and trained plastic experts.

Topic: Huge Acetal Copolymer Rod by Gehr Plastics

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