FTC Seeks Comment on Rules Governing Green Product Advertising

Last week, the Federal Trade Commission issued a press release announcing that it is seeking comment on “potential updates and changes to the Green Guides for the Use of Environmental Claims.”  The FTC first issued the Green Guides in 1992 and last revised them in 2012.

The press release summarizes their purpose: “They provide guidance on environmental marketing claims, including how consumers are likely to interpret particular claims and how marketers can substantiate these claims to avoid deceiving consumers.” The press release includes a copy of the notice that will be published in the Federal Register in mid-January 2023, and the FTC will accept public comments for a period of 60 days after publication.

The press release specifically mentions several issues for public comment: Carbon Offsets and Climate Change; the terms “Recyclable” and ‘Recycled Content”; and the need for “additional guidance on such claims as ‘compostable,’ degradable,’ ‘ozone friendly,’ ‘organic,’ and ‘sustainable,’ as well as those regarding energy use and energy efficiency.”

The notice to be published in the Federal Register divides the issues which the FTC seeks comment on into two sections: General Issues and Specific Claims. The General Issues section encompasses the “…continuing need for the [Green] Guides, their economic impact, and their effect on the accuracy of various environmental claims” as well as their “… interaction with other environmental marketing regulations, and whether the Commission should consider rulemaking to establish independently enforceable requirements related to unfair and deceptive environmental claims.” All together, this section of the notice lists 19 issues for comment, some with multiple subparts.

The Specific Claims section lists 12 issues for comment, some with subparts, and includes those the FTC specifically mentions in the press release as noted above.