FTC is Seeking Comments on Proposed Revisions
In response to the increased use of environmental marketing over the last few years, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has set forth some proposed revisions to their already existing “Green Guides.” Green Guides are advertising guidelines that include principles, guidance, and examples on the use of environmental marketing. Green Guides was created by the FTC to protect consumers from “greenwashing” – the deceptive use of green marketing in order to mislead a consumer into believing that a company’s polices or products are environmentally friendly. The Green Guides also aims to help marketers avoid making misleading environmental claims. While they are not enforceable regulations, if the FTC finds that a marketer is making environmental claims that are inconsistent with Green Guides it may take action under Section 5 of the FTC act prohibiting unfair or deceptive acts or practices.
The new proposal includes both revisions to the existing Green Guides as well as additions. Proposed additions address renewable material content claims, renewable energy claims, and carbon offset claims. Revisions clarify the circumstances under which marketers can make claims that a product is degradable, compostable, ozone-safe/ozone-friendly, recyclable, or non-toxic. The amendments also address marketers’ use of product certifications and seals of approval. The revisions aim to make it clear that marketers need to substantiate all expressed and implied claims involving the environment.