Oct 8, 2010

What does Green really mean? FTC & EPA say they want you to know.

Federal Trade Commission has revised it's 'Green Guides' requiring product benefits be substantiated. Markets have to do more than claim 'eco-friendly'. Marketers must qualify product benefits on product packaging. Demand for green products is rising, green washing is rampant and the use of environmental seals and certifications are confusing, according to Ecolabel Index there are 349 certifications and seals for marketing green products. The last revision to the Green Guides was in 1998.

from the FTC consumer fact page -

Vague or general claims may sound warm and fuzzy, but generally offer little information of value. Claims that a product or service is "environmentally friendly," "environmentally safe," "environmentally preferable," or "eco-safe" or labels that contain environmental seals — say, a picture of the globe with the words "Earth Smart" around it — are unhelpful for two reasons: First, all products, packaging and services have some environmental impact, although some may have less than others. Second, these phrases alone do not provide the specific information you need to compare products, packaging, or services on their environmental merits. Look for claims that give some substance to the claim — the additional information that explains why the product is environmentally friendly or has earned a special seal.

The commission has dedicated a new section in the guides specifically to handling issues surrounding certifications and seals of approval. Companies will be obliged to tell customers if the seals they use are certified by their own companies as opposed to being certified by a third party. Companies that are members of a trade organization that certifies their product must disclose that relationship to the consumer.

see FTC website facts for consumers

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