FTC’s New ‘Green Guides’ Should Help Clarify Environmental Claims

Kermit the Frog may say it isn’t easy being green, and the Federal Trade Commission’s new  ‘green guides’ for RecyclingSymbolGreensmallforweb1 FTCs New Green Guides Should Help Clarify Environmental Claimsadvertising and marketing may make it even harder for those to falsely advertise “green” claims.

That should be good for consumers, who may have been misled by broad claims in the past, according to the FTC who recently made the announcement at our National Advertising Division’s (NAD) conference.

The revised guides are designed to encourage marketers to be truthful about claims they make about the environmental attributes of their products and services. And that should make it easier for consumers to understand the claims. The FTC issued the guides earlier this week after combing through more than 5,000 comments from consumers and marketers. The changes had been proposed in October 2010.

The guides include new sections on the use of carbon offsets, “green” certifications and seals, renewable energy and renewable materials claims. The guides are not rules or regulations, but they define what the agency may find deceptive.

A major change is a warning to marketers against making broad, unqualified claims that a product is environmentally friendly or “eco-friendly.” The agency found that consumers thought that such claims suggested benefits far beyond the actual attributes of a product. Marketers also must have reliable scientific evidence to support the benefits claimed.

An FTC a summary of the “green guides” for consumers is available online at www.ftc.gov. An FTC Green Guide Video explains changes in the guides.

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About Jerri Stroud

Jerri Stroud is editor for the BBB Serving Eastern Missouri & Southern Illinois. She joined the BBB in 2008 after a long career as a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.