The Proctor & Gamble Company’s purportedly plant-based Tide PurClean product is not as eco-friendly as advertised, given fine print on the label reveals the laundry detergent contains potent cleaning aids derived from petroleum, a proposed class action claims.
Filed in New York federal court, the 13-page lawsuit says the Proctor & Gamble Company prominently identifies its PurClean laundry detergent as “plant-based,” with the product’s label depicting a green leaf and emphasizing that it contains “0% dyes, phosphates, chlorine brighteners.” The detergent’s back label lists a slew of plant-based cleaning agents, solvents, a water softener, enzymes, a mineral-based stabilizer and “cleaning aids” in addition to fragrances and water, the complaint says, averring that consumers are led to reasonably believe PurClean uses only plant-based ingredients.
Though the PurClean label displays a USDA BioPreferred Bio Certified Seal, which indicates the product contains 75 percent biobased content, this information is in small font and difficult to read, the case says. Further, it is not made clear to consumers that the words “biobased” and “plant-based” are not interchangeable as “plant-based” is “more specific than biobased,” the lawsuit claims.
In truth, the defendant’s plant-based claims for Tide PurClean are “inconsistent” with Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommendations, which advise companies to “use clear and prominent qualifying language” that plainly relays the certification or seal on a product’s label refers only to “specific and limited benefits,” the complaint says.
In light of this, a reasonable consumer who views the front and back label of Tide PurClean will incorrectly conclude the product is entirely plant-based, including the decidedly non-plant-based cleaning aids—Polyethyleneimines Alkoxylated—derived from petroleum, the suit alleges.
“The cleaning aides are the most potent of the ingredients used in the Product,” the case reads, “even though they are fewer in number than the ingredients which are plant-based and not from petroleum.”
Further, the defendant’s representations that Tide PurClean is gentle on skin and contains no dyes only strengthen consumers’ inaccurate believe the laundry detergent is entirely plant-based, and not made from petroleum, per the suit.
In all, the plaintiff says the Proctor & Gamble Company was able to sell more Tide PurClean at higher prices than it would have absent the conduct alleged in the lawsuit.
“The value of the Product that plaintiffs purchased and consumed was materially less than its value as represented by defendant,” the complaint claims. “Had plaintiffs and class members known the truth, they would not have bought the Product or would have paid less for them.”
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