FTC revised Green Guides finally appear
United States marketing "rules" strengthened.
Submitted by: Vince Collins
It’s been a long five years, but at the beginning of October, the revised Green Guides were finally published by the Federal Trade Commission. The Green Guides offer a set of guidelines for marketers to follow to ensure that they are being honest, forthcoming, and not deceptive about their claims of sustainability. Surprising as it may seem, the Green Guides were originally published in 1992, and no substantial revision has been made since 1998, says GreenBiz. Naturally, there have been a few developments in the area of sustainability since then.
Among other modifications, the guides caution marketers not to make broad, unqualified claims that a product is “environmentally friendly” or “eco-friendly” — or “green” — 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. The commission notes, “Very few products, if any, have all the attributes consumers seem to perceive from such claims, making these claims nearly impossible to substantiate.”
The new guides offer new guidance on certifications and “seals of approval” (which are considered endorsements and thus fall under the purview of FTC’s Endorsements Guides), carbon offsets, the use of the phrase “free-of,” claims about non-toxicity, claims about using renewable energy/materials, and more.
Finally, either because the FTC lacks a sufficient basis to provide meaningful guidance or wants to avoid proposing guidance that duplicates or contradicts rules or guidance of other agencies, the Green Guides do not address use of the terms “sustainable,” “natural,” and “organic.” Or “green.”This article, written by Richard Romano, appeared on the What They Think? blog.