The Federal Trade Commission Seeks Public Comment on Its Green Guides Applicable to Green Marketing and Labeling Claims

Andrea A. Lipuma
Published

The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) is soliciting public comment on its Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims (“Green Guides”), as part of its analysis of whether to modify, retain, or rescind the Green Guides. The issues raised in the Green Guides potentially impact any company that makes marketing or labeling statements about itself or its products relating to sustainability or environmental issues, including claims such as “eco-friendly,” “recyclable” or “non-toxic.” 

What You Need to Know:

  • The Green Guides are a useful tool to help evaluate potential claims, issues and defenses that may arise in greenwashing and consumer fraud challenges.
  • The FTC is seeking comment on their economic impact, efficacy in increasing the accuracy of environmental claims and their interaction with other regulations.
  • Perhaps most significantly, the FTC is seeking comment on whether it should pursue formal rulemaking to establish enforceable requirements for unfair and deceptive environmental claims.

 

The FTC initially issued the Green Guides in 1992 to address unfair trade practices for environmental marketing and labeling claims, and revised them in 2012. See 16 CFR part 260; 15 U.S.C. 45(a). The Green Guides outline general principles that are applicable to all environmental- or sustainability-related marketing claims and provide guidance by way of examples of actionable and acceptable practices. In addition, the Green Guides provide information about how to substantiate a claim and guidance on using qualifications to avoid a claim of deceptive trade practices. 

The Green Guides are a useful tool to help evaluate potential claims, issues and defenses that may arise in greenwashing and consumer fraud challenges. The FTC is seeking comment on the economic impact and efficacy of the Green Guides, as well as on their interaction with other regulations. Perhaps most significantly, the FTC is seeking comment on whether it should pursue formal rulemaking to establish enforceable requirements for unfair and deceptive environmental claims.

The FTC has requested written comments on any issue related to its Green Guides, as well as responses to specific questions which can be found here. This includes questions about changes to address issues in the Green Guides, the evidential support for claims, and whether the FTC should incorporate some or all of the Green Guides into new rulemaking. In addition, the FTC is seeking comment on issues related to carbon offsets and climate change, as well as claims regarding use of the terms sustainable, organic, recyclable/recycled content, biodegradable, compostable, ozone friendly, or energy efficiency.

Comments must be received by February 21, 2023 and may be submitted online here or by mail to: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite CC-5610 (Annex J), Washington, DC 20580. Submissions must include the following: “Green Guides Review (16 CFR part 260) (Matter No. P954501)”.

If you have any questions or need assistance in preparing comments you can contact Andrea Lipuma at Andrea.Lipuma@saul.com.

Author
Andrea A. Lipuma