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BizReport : Law & Regulation : October 22, 2008

FTC to remove gray areas from 'green' ad claims

In an attempt to curb "greenwashing", or deceptive advertising in regard to environmental or green practices, the Federal Trade Commission is re-examining its "Green Guides".

by Helen Leggatt

New FTC regulations concerning "green advertising" are expected to be released in 2009, reports Mediapost. The revised "Green Guides" will serve to clarify any gray areas and make it easier for businesses to adhere to the new regulations.

With a large percentage of American consumers taking a company's environmental record into account when making a purchasing decision, more and more businesses are promoting green aspects of their products or services than ever before.

What the FTC want to stop is any inaccurate or deceptive aspects to green advertising claims, often referred to as "greenwashing".

Terrachoice recently published what they are calling "The Six Sins of Greenwashing":

The Sin of No Proof:
When a company claims a product has an environmental benefit but is unable to provide proof when questioned.

The Sin of Fibbing: When a company lies about an environmental benefit

The Sin of Vagueness: When a company uses descriptors like "green," "environmentally friendly," or "all natural," without defining their context.

The Sin of Irrelevance: When a company gives factual information that's essentially meaningless. For example, labeling a product CFC-free when CFC's were banned years ago.

The Sin of the Hidden Trade-Off
: When a company emphasizes an environmental benefit but plays down other environmental disadvantages the product might have.

The Sin of the Lesser of Two Evils: A product whose value is questionable whether or not it has an environmental benefit.

Tags: environment, Federal Trade Commission, Green Guides, greenwashing, Six Sins of Greenwashing

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