Recent reports suggest that the Federal Trade Commission will release the new Green Guides within the next few weeks – the first guidelines on environmental marketing in the last 12 years.

The Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims apply to all environmental marketing, with guidance on specific claims such as “ozone safe” and “recycled content.” The Guides were originally issued in 1992 and updated in 1996 and 1998.

During the process of reviewing the current Guides, the FTC held three workshops focusing on topics that will likely be addressed by the new Guides, including the marketing of carbon offsets and renewable energy certificates; green packaging claims such as “recyclable” and “biodegradable” as well as new terms not currently addressed by the Guides; and environmental claims about textiles, building products, and buildings.

Experts predict that the new Guides will certainly result in increased enforcement and litigation; the FTC has already brought seven actions addressing environmental advertising since President Barack Obama took office. During President George W. Bush’s eight years, the agency didn’t bring any.

Recent enforcement actions include a warning letter sent to 78 retailers – including Target – cautioning the companies that they could be breaking the law by selling clothing and other textile products labeled and advertised as “bamboo” that were actually made of manufactured rayon fiber.

To read the current FTC Green Guides, click here.

Why it matters: The new Guides could have a dramatic effect on the advertising of environmentally friendly products. The guidelines were set to be released by the end of the summer, and an FTC spokesperson confirmed that the agency is on schedule. Once the regulations are released, they will be published in the Federal Register for a public comment period before they become final.