U.S Government Guidelines for Green
As the world awakens to a new era of sustainable products and packaging, the conscientious consumer has been inundated with a confusing swamp of claims. Our government is taking a more proactive part in making this growing trend toward sustainability easier to understand. The Federal Trade Commission is about to publish new guidlines for green. Please refer to the pdf downloads under Related Links.
As defined by TerraChoice, an environmental consulting agency based in Ottawa, Canada, greenwashing “is the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service.” TerraChoice has published The Seven Sins of Greenwashing which may be found here:
The FTC, in cooperation with the Environmental Protection Agency, commemorated Earth Day 2009 by publishing a brochure entitled “Sorting out Green Advertising Claims.” The report, which may be found here –
- includes tips to aid consumers in making intelligent green choices.
But the FTC went a step further with its Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims. While the recommendations provide the basis for voluntary compliance, the FTC is authorized to impose corrective action if it believes conduct by industry marketers is inconsistent with the Guides.
The FTC puts marketers on notice that deceptive practices will not be tolerated. Here’s an excerpt from the report describing an example of greenwashing:
260.6 General principles
(c) Overstatement of environmental attribute.
A package is labeled “50%” more recycled content than before.” The manufacturer increased the recycled content of its package from 2 percent recycled material to 3 percent recycled material. Although the claim is technically true, it is likely to convey the false impression that the advertiser has increased significantly the use of recycled material.
The full text of the current Guides may be located at: