FTC has Announced New Green Rules Against Broad Eco Statements
The 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!