BBB National Programs Archive
NAD Recommends Kauai Coffee Modify, Discontinue Certain Environmental-Benefits Claims for Coffee Pods, Finds Certain Claims Supported
New York, NY – May 17, 2017 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that Kauai Coffee Company, LLC, discontinue certain environmental-benefits claims for the company’s single-serve coffee pods, but determined that the company can support certain claims.
NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.
NAD requested that the company provide substantiations for express claims that included:
- “Don’t trash the Earth with your coffee. Brew & Renew.”
- Kauai Coffee comes in “new certified 100% compostable pods that work in all K-Cup brewers.”
- “Compostable in industrial facilities. Check locally, as these do not exist in many communities. Not certified for backyard composting.”
- “Now you can enjoy the great taste and convenience of single-serve coffee without worrying about the environmental impact. Our certified 100% compostable pod is compatible with all K-cup brewers and is designed to go back to the land – not the landfill.”
NAD also considered whether the advertising implied that the coffee pods are compostable in a home compost pile, that the product offers significant environmental benefits or that most consumers have access to industrial facilities where the Kauai Coffee pods can be composted.
The advertiser stated that Kauai Coffee is packaged in a soft, mesh net and has been “certified 100% compostable” by Biodegradable Products Institute, a not-for-profit professional association headquartered in New York City.
BPI is known as the official agency for the recognition of products which meet very rigorous and strict scientific standards assuring that the products which are authorized to carry its official designation are compostable.
NAD noted in its decision that the 2016 confirmation letter from BPI states that Kauai coffee pods “meet all of the requirements of ASTM D6400 or ASTM D6868: they will disintegrate and biodegrade swiftly and safely in a professionally managed composting facility and not leave behind any non-compostable residues.”
As an initial matter, NAD determined that the advertiser had provided a reasonable basis for its express claims that its coffee pods are “certified 100% compostable,” “compostable in industrial facilities,” and that they “work in all K-Cup brewers.”
However, in its review of a print ad and the company website, NAD noted the complete absence of any disclaimer indicating that the “certified 100% compostable pods” are only compostable in industrial facilities.
NAD’s decision noted that although “this significant limitation appears in a barely legible font on the photo of the Kauai Coffee box, and in a similarly tiny font within the BPI certification seal itself, the phrase ‘compostable in industrial facilities’ does not modify the main claim, nor is it sufficiently clear and conspicuous such that consumers will notice, read and understand it. It is well-established that any material disclosures must be clear and conspicuous and appear in close proximity to the claim it is qualifying.”
In addition, NAD said, the webpage runs afoul of the FTC’s Green Guides because it does not clearly and prominently disclose that the pods are not suitable for home composting, nor does it indicate the limited availability of industrial composting programs.
NAD recommended that the print ad either be discontinued or modified to include the language “Compostable in industrial facilities. Check locally, as these do not exist in many communities. Not certified for backyard composting” as part of the “100% Compostable” claim.
NAD further recommended that the advertiser discontinue its use of the statement “Don’t trash the Earth with your coffee. BREW & RENEW” along with the image of the trash can imprinted with a green/blue image of the earth and the “fact” that “Over 11 Billion K-CUPS go into America’s landfills each year” as these currently appear.
With regard to the website, NAD recommended that the “Certified 100% Compostable Single-Serve Pods” claim be modified to clearly and conspicuously disclose, in immediate proximity, the qualifying language “Compostable in industrial facilities. Check locally, as these do not exist in many communities. Not certified for backyard composting.”
NAD further recommended that the advertiser discontinue use of the phrase “Now you can enjoy the great taste and convenience of single-serve coffee without worrying about the environmental impact. Our certified 100% compostable pod is compatible with all K-cup brewers and is designed to go back to the land – not the landfill” as it currently appears.
Kauai Coffee said in its advertiser’s statement that while the company took issue with certain of NAD’s findings, it would comply with NAD’s recommendations. The company further noted that “it never intended to deceive or mislead consumers at any time or to overstate the benefits of its … product(s).”
Note: A recommendation by NAD to modify or discontinue a claim is not a finding of wrongdoing and an advertiser’s voluntary discontinuance or modification of claims should not be construed as an admission of impropriety. It is the policy of NAD not to endorse any company, product, or service. Decisions finding that advertising claims have been substantiated should not be construed as endorsements.