FTC Updates Green Marketing Guidelines, Targeting "Broad, Unqualified Claims"

Richard Masoner, Cyclelicious/CC BY-ND 2.0

The Federal Trade Commission has updated its recommendations and guidelines for green marketing, the Green Guides, hoping that it will "help marketers avoid making misleading environmental claims."

The FTC cautions against making "broad, unqualified claims that a product is 'environmental friendly' or 'eco-friendly'" as "very few products, if any, have all the attributes consumers seem to perceive from such claims, making these claims nearly impossible to substantiate."

More specifically, the Green Guides advises against claiming that a product is biodegradable for a solid waste product "unless they can prove that the entire product or package will completely break down and return to nature within one year after customary disposal," further noting that "items destined for landfills, incinerators, or recycling facilities will not degrade within a year."

Not covered in the update guidelines are claims about products being "sustainable", "natural", or "organic."

The guidelines are not specific rules, rather they are intended to help in determining whether product claims are misleading to such a degree that the FTC can take enforcement action due deceptive advertising.

FTC has created a summary of the Green Guides, for those wanting the bullet-pointed version.

Note: Lest the makers of TaterWare cry foul, in no way am I attempting to either support or criticize their particular product claims about biodegradability. It's just a good representative image. Thanks for reading.

Tags: Advertising | Corporate Responsibility

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