FTC Resources for Reporters
Environmentally Friendly Products: FTC’s Green Guides
A growing number of American consumers are looking to buy environmentally friendly, “green” products, from recycled paper to biodegradable trash bags. Companies have responded with “green” marketing touting the environmental benefits of what they’re selling. But sometimes what companies think their green claims mean and what consumers really understand are two different things. The Federal Trade Commission’s Green Guides are designed to help marketers avoid making environmental claims that mislead consumers.
The Green Guides were first issued in 1992 and were revised in 1996 and 1998. The guidance they provide includes: 1) general principles that apply to all environmental marketing claims; 2) how consumers are likely to interpret particular claims and how marketers can substantiate these claims; and 3) how marketers can qualify their claims to avoid deceiving consumers.
The FTC recently proposed an update of the Guides that is designed to make them easier for companies to understand and use. The proposed changes include new guidance on marketers’ use of product certifications and seals of approval, claims about materials and energy sources that are “renewable,” and “carbon offset” claims. The FTC accepted public comments on the proposed changes until December 10, 2010. It will now decide which changes to make final.
- FTC Submits Comment on "Certified Sustainable Seafood" Label – 5/31/2013
- FTC Approves Final Orders Settling Charges Against The Sherwin-Williams Co. and PPG Architectural Finishes, Inc.; Issues Enforcement Policy Statement on "Zero VOC" Paint Claims – 3/06/2013
- Four National Retailers Agree to Pay Penalties Totaling $1.26 Million for Allegedly Falsely Labeling Textiles as Made of Bamboo, While They Actually Were Rayon – 1/03/2013
- FTC Announces Enforcement Policy Statement for Retailers that Directly Import Textile, Wool, and Fur Products – 1/03/2013
- Sherwin-Williams and PPG Settle FTC Charges That They Misled Consumers to Believe Their Paints Were Free of Potentially Harmful Volatile Organic Compounds – 10/25/2012
- FTC Issues Revised "Green Guides" – 10/01/2012
- Federal Trade Commission to Hold Phone-in Media Briefing on Final Changes to the Agency's Green Marketing Guides – 09/28/2012
- FTC Approves Final Orders Settling Charges that Window Marketers Made Deceptive Energy Efficiency and Cost Savings Claims – 05/18/2012
- Window Marketers Settle FTC Charges That They Made Deceptive Energy Efficiency and Cost Savings Claims – 02/22/2012
- FTC Settlement Ends “Tested Green” Certifications That Were Neither Tested Nor Green – 01/11/2011
- Federal Trade Commission Proposes Revised “Green Guides” – 10/06/2010
- FTC Settlement Bars Seller's Deceptive ‘Biodegradable’ Claims – 08/26/2009
- FTC Charges Companies with ‘Bamboo-zling’ Consumers with False Product Claims – 08/11/2009
- FTC Announces Actions Against Kmart, Tender and Dyna-E Alleging Deceptive ‘Biodegradable’ Claims – 06/09/2009
- Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims
- Proposed Revisions to the Green Guides
- Green Guides Fact Sheet