Many businesses, including many franchise systems, utilize marketing or advertising materials that laud or publicize  environmental efforts or make claims about energy efficient, "green", or "environmentally friendly" products, services, or standards.

This form of advertising is specifically regulated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).  Yesterday, the FTC released its revised "Green Guide" which outlines the "Dos" and "Dont's" for companies making environmental marketing claims such as "Green - made with recycled content".  

The FTC website now provides a suggested TO DO list to get companies started in compliance efforts.  The FTC will be blogging about the specific changes to the Green Guides in the coming weeks. In the meantime, it suggests companies and their counsel become familiar with the four page Summary of the Green Guides which provide compliance tips.  These tips include: 

  • Not making broad, unqualified general claims like "green" or "eco-friendly" since they are difficult or impossible to substantiate.
  • Qualifying general claims with clear, prominent, and specific environmental benefits. 
  • Having competent and reliable scientific evidence to support carbon offset claims including using appropriate accounting methods to measure emission reduction properly.
  • Obtaining competent and reliable scientific evidence that a product is safe for both people and the environment before claiming that a product is non-toxic.
  • Remembering that it is deceptive to misrepresent that a product is ozone-friendly or safe for the ozone layer or atmosphere.
  • Qualifying recyclable claims when recycling facilities are not available to at least 60 percent of the consumers or communities where a product is sold.

The FTC website also invites companies to follow the updates at @FTC and tweet questions using #FTCgreen.