The Devil is in the Fine Print – Part 1

How often have you heard the phrase-“The devil is in the details” ? However, when you are looking at the claims manufacturers that claim to that their products will “biodegrade in landfills,”  the devil really is in the fine print.

This is never truer than the recent analyst’s report on Perf-Go Green Holdings, Inc. (PGOG:OB), as well as the company’s own SEC filing documents.

Perf-Go Green Holdings, Inc. markets trash bags that contain “oxo-biodegradable” additives supplied by EPI, in Canada.  These additives allegedly transform regular polyethylene film into biodegradable trash bags, according to the company literature.  Yet no scientific evidence has ever been provided by the companies to show that their bags will fully biodegrade under the conditions found in landfills.It gets more interesting as you get into the “details”. For example, Perf-Go Green’s  most recent (January 30, 2009) S1 regulatory filings with the SEC, the company makes this admission:

Based solely on environmental claims statements made by EPI Environmental Technologies, Inc. (EPI”), the Company that manufactures TDPA, an oxo-biodegradable plastic additive that speeds up the break down of our plastic products, we [Perf-Go] believe our plastic products will break down in landfill environments within twelve (12) to twenty four (24) months, leaving no visible or toxic residue. We have not conducted any research, testing or studies to verify EPI’s claims.

Further down in the document, in the disclosure section highlighting “risk factors” for investors, the company expands a bit further:

We have not performed any independent testing of the biodegradability of our plastic products.

Spectrum [Perf-Go’s manufacturing partner] starts the process by using recycled plastic and then combines it with TDPA. Spectrum utilizes a proprietary application method to produce the film made with TDPA for our trash bags. Based solely on EPI’s environmental claims relating to the degradability of TDPA, we believe our plastic products will biodegrade when discarded in soil in the presence of microorganisms, moisture and oxygen decomposing into simple materials found in nature and will be degradable. We have not independently verified EPI’s claims nor have we tested the effect, if any, of Spectrum Plastic’s process on the biodegradability of our plastic products. There can be no assurance that our plastic products will achieve our expected result.

These investor risks were highlighted in an stock analysts report on Perf-Go Green a couple of weeks prior to the SEC filing (buried on page 41).

Maybe their stock analysts can see through the fallacy of landfill biodegradation claims. This fact was made clear by Crystal Research, in a recent . Commenting on biodegradability as a product benefit, analysts Jeffrey J. Kraws and Karen B. Goldfarb had this important nugget related to studies about biodegradability and landfills on page 19:

Such landfills are often referred to as ‘dry tombs’ because they restrict the exposure of waste to oxygen and water, which are important factors for biodegradation. Research, including the Garbage Project in the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology at the University of Arizona, has demonstrated that these dry tombs may preserve materials that are otherwise degradable or biodegradable…. For more info,  read “Rubbish” by William Rathje.

This study demonstrates the importance of using plastics that can biodegrade faster, before they are buried deep within landfills where oxygen and water are no longer available.

So, let’s recap what is in the details.  Perf-Go Green Holdings markets “biodegradable” trash bags yet has never independently verified the claims. And there is little benefit to promoting biodegradation in the first place.

Truly-the devil is in the details.