Proposed Changes to the Federal Trade Commission’s “Green Guide” James W. Potter
October 8, 2010
Manufacturers of products making environmental friendly claims on labels and in advertising should carefully review proposed changes to the “Green Guides” originally developed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 1992. These guides originally provided general information on the types of advertising claims that would be considered deceptive by the FTC.
Manufacturers have until December 10, 2010 to provide public comment on the proposed changes. The proposed changes are twofold: (1) to strengthen earlier FTC guidance; and (2) to provide new guidance on marketing claims that were not commonly known in the 1990’s
Proposed changes include:
- Discouraging broad blanket claim of “eco-friendly” products;
- The use of certifications are restricted and require disclosure of specific information on certifications;
- Limiting claims that a product is “free of” a chemicals;
- Limiting claims of the biodegradability of a product to no more than one-year for decomposition.
Enforcement by the FTC is increasing, and competitors are quick to challenge a manufacturer’s claim before the FTC. Since these are merely guidelines, a judicial challenge to the “guides” will not likely occur until a specific enforcement case arrives.
Manufacturers should review their current marketing efforts in light of these proposed changes.
James W. Potter practices primarily in environmental law with emphasis in air pollution, water pollution, hazardous waste and Superfund litigation. He also works with OSHA-related matters.
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