FTC reviews environmental marketing guides

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Courtesy of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

Green sells, but discerning between true environmentalism and an eco-feint for the sake of marketing is not as easy as it seems. This fact has not been lost on the Federal Trade Commission, which has updated its guide on claiming how to proclaim greenness. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the agency tasked with monitoring and preventing unfair and deceptive practices in the market, recently announced its intent to review its “Green Guides,” with a special focus on claims regarding carbon offsets and renewable energy certificates.

Need for updating
The FTC’s Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims, commonly known as the Green Guides, provide information on consumer interpretation of certain environmental marketing claims so that marketers do not make false or misleading claims. The Green Guides are codified at 16 C.F.R. Part 260, and were last revised in 1998. On Nov. 27, 2007, the FTC announced that it was beginning a regulatory review of the Green Guides.[1] The commission requested comments, including questions about their costs, benefits and effectiveness, and specific questions on topics such as sustainable and renewable claims.

In a related notice issued on the same day, the FTC announced that it would hold a public workshop on several green marketing topics.[2] The first workshop was convened on Jan. 8, 2008, and addressed the marketing of carbon offsets and renewable energy certificates (RECs).

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