FTC releases revised 'Green Guides' for marketing industry

After two years of work, the Federal Trade Commission released this week a revised set of

After two years of work, the Federal Trade Commission released this week a revised set of "Green Guides." 

After two years of study and edits, the Federal Trade Commission on Monday released the revised "Green Guides," a handbook for marketers to keep them from making fraudulent claims and while helping to save consumers from greenwashing.

The updated guides, available here, include modifications, clarifications and new guidance on the kind of environmental claims that just weren't around when the guides were last updated in 1998. They include sections on the use of carbon offsets, various green certifications and claims about the use of renewable energy and renewable materials.

The guides caution marketers to avoid making unqualified claims about products being "eco-friendly" and generally instruct marketers to use proper labeling about a product's ability to be recycled. The guides avoid stepping on the toes of other agencies so doesn't address the use of the terms "sustainable," "natural" or "organic."

The FTC issued its first Green Guides in 1992.

The FTC has pursued cases against several greenwashing companies in recent years, most recently a window manufacturer making false energy efficiency claims. The industry also has a fairly robust self-policing arm, including the National Advertising Division for the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

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