Cut Abuse; Government Steps In to Curb Greenwashing

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued updated green marketing guidelines intended to stop advertisers from making deceptive or unqualified claims about products being environmentally beneficial or eco-friendly, called “greenwashing”. The FTC said that few products deliver the far-reaching environmental benefits that consumers

associate with such claims, and they are nearly impossible to substantiate.

The revision is the first since 1998, when phrases like “carbon footprint” and “renewable energy” were relatively new. Using input from consumers and industry groups, new sections address the use of carbon offsets, “green” certifications and seals, and renewable energy and renewable materials claims. Marketers are warned not to make broad, unqualified assertions that their products are environmentally benign or eco-friendly.

Arthur Weissman, president and CEO of Green Seal Inc., a nonprofit environmental certification organization based in Washington, D.C., says, “We hope that there will be enforcement to help rid the marketplace of the many less-than-credible seals and greenwashing that exist.”

The new guidelines are not rules or regulations, but general principles that describe the types of environmental claims the FTC may find deceptive. They do not address use of the terms “sustainable”, “natural” and “organic”.

Source: The Christian Science Monitor

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