New FTC Green Guidelines and How They Might Impact Your Earth Day Marketing Plans
Mar 21, 2011
For 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.