New FTC Green Guides set standards for advertisers

New FTC Green Guides set standards for advertisers

The Federal Trade Commission's newly issued "Use of Environmental Marketing Claims" or "Green Guides" seek to curb greenwashing by holding advertisers to higher standards.

On Oct. 1, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued its final version of the “Use of Environmental Marketing Claims,” or “Green Guides.” Greenwashing is a ubiquitous issue, especially for the natural products industry, and these guides are apt to help bring brands into better compliance and greater legitimacy.

Overall, the guides advise advertisers not to over-generalize and to back up claims with evidence—rules that advertisers in any market should take to heart.

Specifically, the guides suggest:

  • Not using general claims such as “green,” and instead to state the specific environmental benefits.
  • For compostable claims, the item must compost safely and in a timely manner in a home compost pile.
  • The guide also addressed degradable claims, certifications and seals of approval, carbon offsets and free-of claims, among other things.

It is important to note that FTC decided not to address sustainability claims or the term “natural,” and will continue to defer to the U.S. Department of Agriculture in regards to the term “organic.” FTC also does not intend to rewrite the Green Guides for another ten years and will only address new evidence of specific sections as they arise.

View the FTC's Green Guides [PDF]

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