Online Exclusives

Seeing Green

By Tom Branna, Editorial Director | January 22, 2013

FTC issued revised Green Guides in October. Here's what they mean for marketers and suppliers.

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued revised Green Guides in October. James Kohm, associate director, enforcement division, FTC, was on-hand at the CSPA annual meeting to help explain what it all means to attendees. The Green Guides were first issued in 1992 and were revised in 1996 and 1998. The guidance they provide includes:

• General principles that apply to all environmental marketing claims;
• How consumers are likely to interpret particular claims and how marketers can substantiate these claims; and
• How marketers can qualify their claims to avoid deceiving consumers.
“We wrote the Guides to level the playing field,” assured Kohm. “We’re not playing a game of ‘Gotcha!’”
In fact, Kohm went out of his way to offer assurances that the FTC wants to work closely with industry to make sure that companies understand what the Guides are, what they can do and what they can’t do.
“We sue those companies who step over the line and those that live over the line,” said Kohm. “We didn’t write the Guides for people who live over the line.”

And how does FTC find out about companies that cross the line on green claims? Primarily from competitors who cry foul, according to Kohm. The Guides total 35 pages with “real world” examples and 308 pages of analysis.

In revising the Green Guides, the FTC modified and clarified sections of the previous Guides and provided new guidance on environmental claims that were not common when the Guides were last reviewed. Among other modifications, the Guides caution marketers not to make broad, unqualified claims that a product is “environmentally friendly” or “eco-friendly” because the FTC’s consumer perception study confirms that such claims are likely to suggest that the product has specific and far-reaching environmental benefits.Very few products, if any, have all the attributes consumers seem to perceive from such claims, making these claims nearly impossible to substantiate, according to FTC.

The Guides also advise marketers not to make an unqualified degradable claim for a solid waste product unless they can prove that the entire product or package will completely break down and return to nature within one year after customary disposal. The Guides caution that items destined for landfills, incinerators, or recycling facilities will not degrade within a year, so marketers should not make unqualified degradable claims for these items; and clarify guidance on compostable, ozone, recyclable, recycled content, and source reduction claims.

The Guides contain new sections on certifications and seals of approval; carbon offsets; free-of claims; non-toxic claims; made with renewable energy claims, and made with renewable materials claims.

The Guides caution marketers not to use environmental certifications or seals that don’t clearly convey the basis for the certification, because such seals or certifications are likely to convey general environmental benefits.

Perhaps, just as important, Kohm told the audience what The FTC Green Guides are not; i.e, they don’t offer a seal or certification and they do not define terms such as “organic” or “sustainable.”

“We didn’t give you advice on the word ‘natural,’ either,” explained Kohm. “It means so many things to so many people.”
 
 
  • Supply-Side Innovations

    Supply-Side Innovations

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||March 1, 2017
    Raw material suppliers roll up their sleeves and roll out their new products for the global cleaning industry.

  • New Faces in Familiar Places

    New Faces in Familiar Places

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||March 1, 2017
    The American Cleaning Institute officially welcomed its new president.

  • Special Delivery

    Special Delivery

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||March 1, 2017
    UV protection is important, but what good is that sunscreen if consumers won’t apply it?

  • It’s Magic!

    It’s Magic!

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||March 20, 2017
    Argan oil-infused ‘Moroccan’ lip care brand jumps from WholeFoods into CVS.

  • On the Cutler Edge

    On the Cutler Edge

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||March 13, 2017
    Top brand source at Redken forecasts up-to-the-minute hair trends.

  • Take The Hint

    Take The Hint

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||March 13, 2017
    Water brand forays into sun protection by capitalizing on scent and experience.

  • What’s Up with Brexit?

    What’s Up with Brexit?

    March 9, 2017
    During In-Cosmetics, industry experts from the CTPA will weigh in on what’s ahead for the beauty industry.

  • Shine On

    Shine On

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||March 6, 2017
    Jelmar’s Tarn-X tarnish remover celebrates 50th anniversary.

  • How We Clean

    How We Clean

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||March 6, 2017
    Consumers describe what makes them tick and what ticks them off about household cleaning products.

  • Care for Your Hair

    Care for Your Hair

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||February 27, 2017
    Salon expert Richard Jay talks about protecting tresses.

  • Fit for Fitness

    Fit for Fitness

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||February 21, 2017
    Kinx Active is a new brand targeting women who want beauty products that can stand up to their fitness routines.

  • Cargo Says Aloha To Spring/Summer

    Cargo Says Aloha To Spring/Summer

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||February 13, 2017
    Cargo Cosmetics has rolled out its new Spring/Summer collection with Hawiianan singer Anuhea.

  • Cashing In on Coconuts

    Cashing In on Coconuts

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||February 6, 2017
    Organic to Green is making waves for its new oils and eco-friendly packaging.

  • Monday Morning Quarterback

    Monday Morning Quarterback

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||February 6, 2017
    Super Bowl commercials are big business. Let’s look at some of personal and household care brands that bought spots this year

  • Catch These Rising Stars of Beauty

    Catch These Rising Stars of Beauty

    Nancy Jeffries, Contributing Editor||February 6, 2017
    Who won what at Fashion Group International's Rising Star awards show

  • Coast To Coast

    Coast To Coast

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||January 30, 2017
    Natural hand wash brand is aiming to make an environmental difference.

  • Switch It Up

    Switch It Up

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||January 30, 2017
    Chicago startup seeks to shake up the AP/deo category with a new launch that meshes sustainability, style and scent.

  • Skin of Color Society Connects Experts

    Skin of Color Society Connects Experts

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||January 16, 2017
    Dermatologists from across the nation share information and ideas.

  • Erasa

    Erasa's New Evangelist(a)

    January 9, 2017
    Impressed by the performance of its hero SKU, supermodel Linda Evangelista joins the company in a hand's on role.

  • Discourse on Disclosure

    Discourse on Disclosure

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||January 6, 2017
    Transparency impacts the cleaning industry.

  • The Top Stories of 2016

    The Top Stories of 2016

    December 26, 2016
    The companies and topics that grabbed headlines and your attention this year.

  • Positive Influence

    Positive Influence

    December 19, 2016
    Co-founder Elizabeth Scherle talks about her growing consumer review platform, top beauty products and more.

  • Pro Pigments

    Pro Pigments

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||December 12, 2016
    Makeup brand Kryloan has a rich history in the industry and now open doors at a NYC flagship.

  • Fast Forward

    Fast Forward

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||December 12, 2016
    Doug Cooper of IP Brands is thinking ahead when it comes to beauty trends.

  • Olivia Care Pays It Forward

    Olivia Care Pays It Forward

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||December 12, 2016
    Seeking post-election unity, a small natural personal care company hopes to cause a big wave of giving.

  • Patent Activity: Colgate-Palmolive

    Patent Activity: Colgate-Palmolive

    December 6, 2016
    New oral care compositions, the use of radish root ferment filtrate in a cleanser and more.

  • Sparkle & Shine

    Sparkle & Shine

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||November 21, 2016
    Glam packaging and upscale scent combos are big at Yankee Candle for Holiday 2016.

  • Cos Bar: Turning 40 and Hitting Fast Forward

    Cos Bar: Turning 40 and Hitting Fast Forward

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||November 21, 2016
    With a recent investor infusion, a new CEO and rebranding effort underway, this luxury beauty retailer has big plans.