The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is poised to pay more attention to “green” environmental marketing claims. The FTC’s revised “Green Guide” will be released at the National Advertising Division meeting in New York on October 1. The Green Guide was first issued in 1992 and were revised in 1996 and 1998. The guidance they provide includes: 1) general principles that apply 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 FTC engaged in an update process of the Guide starting in 2010 that was designed to make them easier for companies to understand and use. The proposed changes include new guidance on marketers’ use of product certifications and seals of approval, claims about materials and energy sources that are “renewable,” and “carbon offset” claims. The proposed Guide also caution marketers not to use unqualified certifications or seals of approval – those that do not specify the basis for the certification. The Guide more prominently state that unqualified product certifications and seals of approval likely constitute general environmental benefit claims, and they advise marketers that the qualifications they apply to certifications or seals should be clear, prominent, and specific.
Questionable and misleading environmental claims by certain businesses and manufacturers of “green” products prompted the development of the FTC “Green Guide”. Expect closer and increased regulatory scrutiny of marketers’ environmental benefit claims by the Federal Trade Commission. The Green Guide provisions will also apply to the greenhouse, nursery and landscaping industries regarding environmental claims on plants and products. Questions? Visit the FTC website