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FTC Extends Reviews of Textile Labeling Rules, Energy Labels for Heating/Cooling Equipment

Wednesday, January 04, 2012
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Federal Trade Commission has extended for 30 days the deadlines for comments on the Textile Rules and new energy labeling requirements for residential furnaces, central air conditioners and heat pumps.

Textile Rules. The FTC will now accept comments on the Textile Rules through Feb. 2. These rules require that textiles sold in the U.S. carry labels disclosing the generic names and percentages by weight of the fibers in the product, the manufacturer or marketer name or registered identification number, and the country where the product was processed or manufactured.

The FTC last formally reviewed the Textile Rules in 1998 and is inviting input from consumers, businesses, advocates, industry experts and others on whether it should take the following actions.

• modify the provision addressing generic fiber names so that the reference to the international standard for manufactured fibers reflects the updated standard

• clarify the provisions addressing textile products containing elastic material and trimmings

• address the use of multiple languages in required disclosures

• clarify disclosure requirements for print and online advertising (e.g., the fact that fiber content percentages do not have to be disclosed in advertising)

• clarify or reconsider the Rules’ list of products excluded from the Textile Fiber Products Identification Act

• add or clarify definitions of terms set forth in the Rules

• modify consumer and business education materials and continue printing paper copies of these materials

Comments are also sought on the benefits and costs of the Textile Act’s requirement that businesses identify themselves on labels using either their names or identifiers issued by the FTC (specifically whether alternative identifiers should be allowed, such as numbers issued by other nations), the extent to which retailers obtain guarantees for textile products, and whether the extent or manner of textile importation indicates that the guarantee provisions of the Textile Rules and Act should be modified.

Heating and Cooling Equipment. Comments will now be accepted through Feb. 6 on new energy labeling requirements for residential furnaces, central air conditioners and heat pumps that are designed to help consumers and businesses install equipment appropriate for their location under the Department of Energy’s new regional efficiency standards. Unlike existing DOE standards, which impose uniform, national efficiency levels for heating and cooling equipment, the new minimum energy efficiency standards for certain products vary by region. To promote compliance with these standards, the FTC will develop new labeling or other required disclosures to help consumers and industry members choose and install the correct equipment for their particular location. The FTC seeks public comment on how best to develop consumer and industry disclosures regarding the new standards for residential furnaces, central air conditioners and heat pumps, including possible revisions to the current EnergyGuide label.

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