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New FTC Green Guidelines and How They Might Impact Your Earth Day Marketing Plans

March 21st, 2011 No comments

changes to FTC Green Guidelines for Earth DayFor those organizations and businesses that are planning Earth Day celebrations this April, it might be time to familiarize yourself with some of the Federal Trade Commission’s proposed revisions to its Green Guides.

Though these Guidelines are not the Law, and will probably see many rounds of changes, here are some of the key revisions the the 1998 Green Guides, according to the Better Business Bureau.

  • Marketers should not make unqualified general environmental benefit claims such as “green” or “eco-friendly”.  According to the Guides, these claims are difficult, if not impossible, to substantiate.
  • Seals and Certifications are considered “endorsements.”  This means that marketers may need to disclose any material connections with the certifier.  Third-party certification does not eliminate a marketer’s obligation to have substantiation for its claims.
  • An unqualified claim that a product or package is biodegradable means that it will completely decompose is no more than one year after customary disposal.  Marketers should not make unqualified degradable claims for items destined for landfills.
  • The Guides address claims of recyclability and introduce a three-tiered analysis for disclosing the limited availability of recycling programs.
  • Marketers making “renewable energy” claims should specify the source of the renewable energy.  If a company sells Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) for the renewable energy they generate, should not represent that they use renewable energy.
  • Marketers making “carbon offset” claims should disclose if the offset purchase funds emission reductions that will not occur for two years or longer.

Best advice, deal with reputable organizations and ones that can provide Third Party Certification to back up its claims.

For more information, visit the BBB website or FTC Green Guides website.

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Robert Piller, experienced in green marketing campaigns and recycled promotional products. His web site includes a comprehensive advertising specialty search, featuring over 250,000 eco promotional items in all price ranges, for any business or organization interested in going green.  The site’s handy search tool helps you easily find recyclable, biodegradable, organic or recycled imprinted promotional items in your price range and time frame. View the Go Green website at EcoMarketingSolutions.com and comment on his blog postings at GreenSpotBlog.com.

FTC has Announced New Green Rules Against Broad Eco Statements

October 11th, 2010 No comments

FTC Announces new Green GuidelinesThe FTC has made some of their proposed revisions to the Federal Trade Commission’s Green Guides, which are a set of guidelines aimed at clearing up confusion since its last update in 1998.

These are preliminary guidelines, as the FTC is still seeking public comment on the updated guidelines for 60 days, before issuing a final version, which will not be announced until late 2011, at the earliest.

“The Green Guides were designed to help businesses avoid making misleading environmental claims,” FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said Wednesday during a conference call with reporters. “That, of course, helps consumers.”

Leibowitz described an “explosion” of green claims being made for a variety of goods, ranging from paper towels to textiles, leaving consumers confused about what they’re buying. “We’re not always getting what we think we’re getting,” he said.

At the same, businesses are also unclear about the environmental attributes of their products, so clear cut rules will help all parties. These new guidelines were supposed to be ready by 2009, but, like every other government project, things seem to take much longer than anticipated.

The FTC is looking mostly to have companies able to substantiate their environmental claims, and to use more narrowly-focused terms rather than “eco-friendly” or “green”, to avoid confusion.
I am sure the final guidelines will be watered down, unfortunately, as “interest” groups on all sides weigh in.

However, best business practices are to always be able to substantiate claims a company makes, be it in terms of sustainability, biodegradation, energy efficiency and any other factors. Common sense will prevail in the end.

Let’s make every day, Earth Day!
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Robert Piller, experienced in green marketing campaigns and recycled promotional products. His web site includes a comprehensive advertising specialty search, featuring over 250,000 eco promotional items in all price ranges, for any business or organization interested in going green. The site’s handy search tool helps you easily find recyclable, biodegradable, organic or recycled imprinted promotional items in your price range and time frame. View the Go Green website at EcoMarketingSolutions.com and comment on his blog postings at GreenSpotBlog.com.