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The Value of Your Green Marketing Claims is Transparency

February 4th, 2013 No comments
Are Your Green Claims Valid?

How Transparent Are Your Green Marketing Claims?

How Transparent Are Your Green Marketing Claims?

Austin, Texas: I just came back from a week long trade show and was disappointed in the number of green claims being made by manufacturers and potential vendors.

After I reminded them of the new Green Guides, many of them either laughed it off, ignored it, or mumbled some sort of remark like, “that doesn’t hold for us”, or “that’s only for California” or some other asinine and smarmy comments.

There were some heated conversations when I refused to back down and told them to read up on the rules — before claiming that the products they want me to sell are “biodegradable” – when they do not conform to those old rules any longer.

Yes, the new Green Guides hold just as true in Texas  or Montana as it does for California and every other state.

A green business needs to be transparent in their claims.

All of their claims. Not just the ones that are convenient.

Explain how your product or service helps the environment, or reduces energy consumption or is made of a high percentage of recycled material — then back those claims up.

If you can’t back them up, state that too.

People will give you credit for working toward getting greener than to make unsubstantiated claims.

I will be spending much of this year reviewing the claims from my factories – and eliminating many of my suppliers – as well as re-writing and re-evaluating their claims.

I would suggest that you do the same to your own product line.

Here’s to a greener tomorrow, today!

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Robert Piller, President of Eco Marketing Solutions, has over 28 years of experience in running and implementing green marketing campaigns and is a leader in the recycled promotional products industry, including offering one of the largest selections of recycled and reusable water bottles and imprinted coffee mugs, reusable and organic tote bags, recycled pens and pencils in the country. In addition to being a noted writer on issues of social and safety compliance, Robert Piller recently completed his CAS degree — one of the highest honors in the promotional products industry for his years of continuous education and certification. His company’s website, EcoMarketingSolutions.com, features over 25,000 eco-friendly 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 biodegradable, organic and recycled imprinted promotional items in your price range and time frame.

You can also reach him by email (robert (at) ecomarketingsolutions.com) or comment on his blog postings at GreenSpotBlog.com or below at his Twitter link.

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SC Johnson Lawsuit Shows the Need for 3rd Party Certification

July 11th, 2011 No comments

be sure to use a 3rd party licensed company for green claimsRather than admit to being guilty, SC Johnson settled some lawsuits last week over its green certification claims, according to an article in GreenBiz.com.

This should shed a light on green certification programs.

Recently, many companies seem to be trying to cut corners and budget by testing their own products for lead, and certifying their products as green.  Hand held lead testing equipment prices have been falling, while third party certification still remains relatively high, causing many companies of all sizes to trim costs.

I am one for saving money in certain ares, but third party certification is not one of those.  Neither is product safety.

If you are going to make green claims, then back it up with legitimate claims.

Be sure your claims are transparent.

If you are going to put one of the dozens of green seals of certification on your product or product packaging, be sure it is from a reputable 3rd party testing lab.

Saying you are the greatest or greenest or smartest or best looking, etc. does not make it so.  Having third party certification makes it much more so.

Please learn from the SC Johnson situation.  Don’t be penny wise and dollar foolish when it comes to green certification claims.

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Robert Piller, President of Eco Marketing Solutions, has over 25 years of experience in running and implementing green marketing campaigns and is a leader in the recycled promotional products industry, including offering one of the largest selections of reusable and organic tote bags, recycled and biodegradable water bottles, recycled pens and pencils in the country.

His company’s website, EcoMarketingSolutions.com, features over 25,000 eco-friendly 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 biodegradable, organic and recycled imprinted promotional items in your price range and time frame.

You can also reach him by email (robert (at) ecomarketingsolutions.com) or comment on his blog postings at GreenSpotBlog.com or below at his Twitter link.

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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.