FTC Sues Walmart, Accuses It of Falsely Advertising Items As ‘Bamboo’

  • The FTC is suing Walmart over accusations it has falsely marketed some of its products.
  • The Commission filed the suit in the District of Columbia Friday. 
  • According to the FTC, some of the products in question were made of rayon, not bamboo. 

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is suing Walmart over accusations that the retailer falsely claimed some of its products were made of bamboo or provided an environmental benefit. 

According to the lawsuit, the FTC alleged that Walmart’s marketing and sales of its textile fiber products, including towels, bedding, and bras, deceptively described their material as “bamboo,” when in fact they were made of rayon. 

Rayon is the name given to a type of regenerated or manufactured fiber made from cellulose, the lawsuit stated. 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 and 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 and not cotton, wood, or bamboo fiber,” the suit said. 

Some of the products that the FTC alleges Walmart falsely advertised online were displayed in the lawsuit. They include an “Ottomanson bamboo luxury bath towel set,” which lists the fiber content as “100% Bamboo.”

The retailer has also advertised products it claims are made from bamboo as “eco-friendly,” and “in harmony with nature,” whereas the FTC claims they are not because hazardous air pollutants are emitted from the rayon-making 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 over its improper labeling but the retailer hardly took any action, the lawsuit alleged.

In 2010, the FTC sent a letter explaining that the term “bamboo” could only be used in labeling or advertising textile products made from fibers directly taken from the bamboo plant. 

It also told Walmart that rayon must be described in the labeling of its products, per the lawsuit. Walmart “engaged in its unlawful acts and practices repeatedly over a period of at least five years,” the filing further alleged. 

This is not the only lawsuit Walmart has been entangled 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 in the store. 

Then in March, Walmart sued BJ’s Wholesale Club over self-checkout technology.