The Federal Trade Commission will announce final revisions to its “Green Guides” on October 1, 2012. The Green Guides seek to help marketers avoid making deceptive marketing and advertising claims by outlining general principles that apply to all environmental marketing claims, as well as provide specific guidance about how consumers are likely to interpret particular claims. As part of releasing the final revisions to the Green Guides, Jon Leibovwitz, the FTC Chairman, will hold a phone-in media briefing at noon. The Green Guides were last revised in 1998, with proposed revisions issued for public comment in October 2010.
When proposed revisions were issued in October 2010, the revisions focused on three topics: (1) revisions to previously established Green Guide provisions; (2) entirely new Green Guide provisions; and (3) matters for which the FTC has declined to provide guidance. The common thread throughout these topics is the FTC’s desire to encourage more specificity in marketers’ claims to avoid causing confusion to consumers. While not having the force of law, the Green Guides provide guidance to the public on how to avoid false or misleading environmental marketing claims in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act, which prohibits unfair or deceptive acts or practices.
Manufacturers and marketers should note the FTC’s final revisions to the Green Guides and beginning the process of evaluating and updating current marketing claims. For more general information on the agency’s modifications visit the FTC’s dedicated “green” website at http://www.ftc.gov/green.