greenpiece: Federal Trade Commission Proposes Revised "Green Guides":
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) proposed revisions to the guidance that it gives marketers to help them avoid making misleading environmental claims. The proposed changes are designed to update the guides and make them easier for companies to understand and use.
The changes to the "Green Guides" include new guidance on marketers' use of product certifications and seals of approval, renewable energy claims, renewable materials claims and carbon offset claims. The FTC is seeking public comments on the proposed changes until Dec. 10, after which it will decide which changes to make final.
The Green Guides were first issued in 1992 to help marketers ensure the claims they make are true and substantiated. The guides were revised in 1996 and 1998. The guidance they provide includes: 1) general principles applying to all environmental marketing claims; 2) how consumers are likely to interpret particular claims and how marketers can substantiate these claims; and 3) how marketers can qualify their claims to avoid deceiving consumers.
The proposed, revised guides include changes designed to strengthen the FTC's guidance on those marketing claims that are already addressed in the current guides as well as to provide new guidance on marketing claims that were not common when the guides were last reviewed. The proposed changes were developed using information collected from three public workshops, public comments and a study of how consumers understand certain environmental claims.
Proposed Revisions to the Guides
The revised guides caution marketers not to make blanket, general claims that a product is "environmentally friendly" or "eco-friendly" because the FTC's consumer perception study confirms that such claims are likely to suggest that the product has specific and far-reaching environmental benefits. Very few products, if any, have all the attributes consumers seem to perceive from such claims, making these claims nearly impossible to substantiate.