Changing Horizons: FTC's Updated Green Guides Alter The Eco Marketing Landscape
This issue of degradability is just one of the topics covered. The Guides also clarify definitions for "compostable," "ozone," "recyclable," "recycled content" and "source reduction" claims.
What's New In The Update?
The Guides contain new sections on the use of carbon offsets, "green" certifications and seals, and renewable energy and renewable materials claims.
Certifications and seals of approval may be considered endorsements, according to the FTC. As such, the FTC recommends avoiding the use of environmental certifications or seals that don't clearly convey the basis for the certification because such seals or certifications are likely to convey general environmental benefits.
The FTC further discourages the use of seals or certifications that do not "materially" relate to the attributes of the product. This means images of a "leaf," "baby," "planet" or "daisies" that are commonly used to imply some added benefit is no longer valid unless there is scientific proof to validate the claim.
What's On The Horizon?
Like other regulators, the FTC shares and has overlapping authority with other agencies on many topics. So keep in mind that The Green Guides are not intended to contradict rules or guidance of those other agencies.
Notably, this update to the Guides does not address use of the terms "sustainable," "natural" and "organic," as these fall into the purview of other organizations. For example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Organic Program covers organic claims made for textiles and other products derived from agricultural products.
Additional agencies with shared authority in this area include the Food and Drug Administration, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA's Design for the Environment Program and various state-level Health Departments. A compliance expert can work with you to identify the specific organizations regulating claims related to your product line.