Background

The Federal Trade Commission has extended from Feb. 21 to April 24 the deadline for public comments on potential updates and changes to its Green Guides, which help marketers avoid making environmental marketing claims that are unfair or deceptive. The FTC seeks to update these guides based on increasing consumer interest in buying environmentally friendly products.

The Green Guides, which were last revised in 2012, 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 FTC is requesting comments on the continuing need for the guides, their economic impact, their effect on the accuracy of various environmental claims, and their interaction with other environmental marketing regulations. Specific issues on which the FTC expects to get many public comments include the following.

- current guidance on carbon offset and renewable energy claims and whether the revised Guides should provide additional information on related claims and issues

- whether to change the current threshold that guides marketers on when they can make unqualified recyclable claims as well as whether the Guides should address in more detail claims for products that are collected (picked up curbside) by recycling programs but not ultimately recycled

- whether unqualified claims about recycled content – particularly claims related to pre-consumer and post-industrial content – are widely understood by consumers and whether alternative methods of substantiating recycled content claims may be appropriate

- additional guidance regarding claims such as “compostable,” “degradable,” “ozone-friendly,” “organic,” and “sustainable” as well as those regarding energy use and energy efficiency

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