The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has revised its green marketing guidance “to help marketers avoid making misleading environmental claims” about their products. Last revised in 1998, the guidance cautions marketers not to make “broad, unqualified claims that a product is ‘environmentally friendly’ or ‘eco-friendly’” because such claims are “nearly impossible to substantiate.”

The guidance also (i) advises 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; (ii) cautions 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 (iii) clarifies guidance on compostable, ozone, recyclable, recycled content, and source reduction claims. According to an October 1, 2012, press release, these so-called “Green Guides” outline FTC’s perspective on what constitutes sufficient “green” advertising under section 5 of the FTC Act, which also authorizes enforcement actions against unfair or deceptive practices.