Unsubstantiated claims, vague terms and fibs are confusing for consumers who are inundated left and right with the world’s-next-best-and-brightest green products (yes, even for those who do their homework). Not to mention, they don’t promote true environmental responsibility.
But it’s an entirely different matter to do something about it. Fortunately for you and me, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is making it a tiny bit easier to tackle this seemingly insurmountable issue. The company recently opened for comment its recommended revisions to the “Green Guides,” which offer marketers suggestions on what to say – and not say – to help avoid misleading environmental claims.
According to FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, “The proposed updates to the Green Guides will help businesses better align their product claims with consumer expectations.”
Currently, proposed revisions recommend not using general terms (i.e. “eco-friendly” or “green”) without backing them up with more specific examples. Also included are cautions around using unqualified certifications or seals of approvals – those that do not clearly explain the basis for the certification.
So if you’re frustrated with the lack of clarity in green product claims, do something about it. The FTC is seeking comments on all aspects of the proposed revisions, including:
· How should marketers qualify “made with renewable materials” claims, if at all, to avoid deception?
· Should the FTC provide guidance concerning how long consumers think it will take a liquid substance to completely degrade?
· How do consumers understand “carbon offset” and “carbon neutral” claims? Is there any evidence of consumer confusion concerning the use of these claims?
A complete set of questions can be found in Section VII of the Green Guides – Request for Comment (page 47). Comments can be submitted via an online form through December 10, 2010.