Law & Order

Government Updating Guide on “Green” Advertising Claims

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is updating its “Green Guides,” which are intended to help marketers avoid misleading environmental claims. The Guides were first issued in 1992 but have not been revised since 1998. The Guides cover: 1) general principles that apply to all environmental marketing claims; 2) consumer perception of claims and marketing substantiation of claims; and 3) avoiding consumer deception.

A recent consumer marketing study found that most people thought a “green” product was recyclable, biodegradable, made from recycled materials or made with renewable materials. Since very few products, if any, have all of these attributes, the FTC’s Guide revisions are intended to clarify and limit the claims. The proposed revisions would require companies to provide more specific information about claims, such as renewable energy, carbon offsets and biodegradability. A new section in the Guides would require third-party certification of a product’s environmental claims to be treated as an endorsement with qualification language that is clear, prominent and specific. The FTC is expected to finalize the updates next year.

For more information, contact Stuart Gosswein at