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.”
 
 
  • Slow & Steady

    Slow & Steady

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||December 1, 2016
    In a tumultuous environment, steady gains posted in the industrial and institutional cleaning sector are welcomed.

  • The World Comes to Orlando

    The World Comes to Orlando

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||December 1, 2016
    More than 1,600 chemists traveled to Florida for the IFSCC Congress

  • The Plex  Phenomenon

    The Plex Phenomenon

    Denise Costrini, Croda North America||December 1, 2016
    Croda details the hair-protecting qualities of bond multipliers and the company’s new bond-building formulation system.

  • 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.

  • Organic Matter

    Organic Matter

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||November 14, 2016
    FTC and USDA hold a public roundtable to discuss consumers’ perception of organic claims.

  • Help for Up Above

    Help for Up Above

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||November 14, 2016
    A brand from Down Under is touting a new formulation for what’s missing on top.

  • Skin Care Sensation

    Skin Care Sensation

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||November 7, 2016
    Circ Cell aims to be unique with formulations that uphold skin tone.

  • Get Ready, ‘Cause Here it Comes…

    Get Ready, ‘Cause Here it Comes…

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||November 1, 2016
    Skinphonic is a new brand created with a team of beauty experts and fronted by singer Smokey Robinson.

  • Hair for Me!

    Hair for Me!

    October 31, 2016
    Function of Beauty fulfills the promise of personalization in the beauty space—one bottle at a time.

  • A Facial Bar Grows in Brooklyn

    A Facial Bar Grows in Brooklyn

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||October 24, 2016
    With three doors in Canada, Blitz Facial Bar opens its first US location in one of the hippest areas of New York.

  • Free and Clear

    Free and Clear

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||October 17, 2016
    OY-L aims for zero-chemical skin care.

  • Coming Clean on a Host of Issues

    Coming Clean on a Host of Issues

    October 17, 2016
    Cleaning Products Conference is set for Nov. 9-11, 2016 in Washington DC.

  • Let the Magic Begin!

    Let the Magic Begin!

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||October 10, 2016
    IFSCC Congress gets underway at Walt Disney World this month.

  • Ogee Opens for Business

    Ogee Opens for Business

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||October 10, 2016
    Banking on the power of jojoba oil, a Vermont-based start-up is the newest player in organic luxury skin care.

  • P&G’s Latest Patents

    P&G’s Latest Patents

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||October 10, 2016
    A look at recent patent and IP related news from the biggest household and personal care player in the US.

  • A Cosmetic Armor Against Pollution

    A Cosmetic Armor Against Pollution

    Julia Comas, Cristina Davi, Elena Canadas, Laia Gonzalez, Raquel Delgado, Lipotec SAU||October 3, 2016
    Lipotec’s Pollushield creates a barrier between skin and pollutants and boosts the antioxidative potential of skin.

  • Cosmetic Chemists Head to Orlando Next Month

    Cosmetic Chemists Head to Orlando Next Month

    September 26, 2016
    Organizing Chair Guy Padulo explains why you should attend the IFSCC Congress.

  • Restoring Rembrandt

    Restoring Rembrandt

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||September 26, 2016
    Ranir LLC has acquired Rembrandt, an iconic name in teeth whitening, and plans to make it a staple in the value segment.

  • Active Agents

    Active Agents

    September 19, 2016
    On the surface, surfactants may seem staid, but the market, and the supplier activity driving it, is bubbling.

  • Jam On It!

    Jam On It!

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||September 19, 2016
    Jamberry sees success in artsy nail accessories.

  • Expanding Erbaviva

    Expanding Erbaviva

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||September 13, 2016
    A farm-to-bottle organic brand celebrates its 20th anniversary with a new look, new products and plans to expand in the US.

  • Vintage Glamour Rules the Runways at NYFW

    Vintage Glamour Rules the Runways at NYFW

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||September 12, 2016
    A look at trends in cosmetics and hairstyling.

  • Rock n Roll

    Rock n Roll

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||September 6, 2016
    A new sunscreen applicator is slowly making noise in the industry.

  • Lauder’s Latest Patents

    Lauder’s Latest Patents

    September 1, 2016
    A composition with NIR light emitting material, a skin care device and more awarded to this beauty business giant.

  • ‘Lash’-ing Out!

    ‘Lash’-ing Out!

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||August 29, 2016
    All eyes are on Lash Star Beauty, a lash-centric beauty brand that recently made its QVC debut.

  • Long Term Sustainability In the Nonwovens Market

    Long Term Sustainability In the Nonwovens Market

    August 23, 2016
    Learn more at Cleaning Products USA, Nov. 9-11, 2016