The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) recently released its revised Green Guides, which provide guidance to marketers and advertisers regarding claims that a product is “environmentally-friendly” or has other “green” attributes. The revised guidance replaces the version of the Green Guides released in 2010, which we discussed here. The core of the Green Guides remains the same, requiring that suppliers substantiate terms such as “eco-friendly”, “biodegradable”, “nontoxic”, “compostable”, “recyclable”, “made of recycled materials”, “made using renewable energy” and “carbon neutral” when used to describe a product.
The new Green Guides elaborate on the use of the above-listed terms, and caution marketers not to make unqualified general environmental benefit claims because “it is highly unlikely that marketers can substantiate all reasonable interpretations of these claims.” The new guidance stems in part from a recent FTC consumer perception study that concluded that such claims are often interpreted to suggest that the product has more far-reaching environmental benefits than can actually be supported. The new Green Guides provide guidance on how to substantiate such environmentally-based claims.
The guides also include new information on several other topics including: unqualified biodegradable claims; claims regarding a product being compostable, recyclable, or ozone-friendly; certifications and seals of approval; carbon offsets; “free-of” claims; non-toxic claims; made with renewable energy claims; and made with renewable materials claims. The new Green Guides can be found in their entirety here.
The new guidance is important for alcohol industry members, and is a reminder that environmental claims must be substantiated. Additionally, keep in mind that environmentally-based claims as they relate to alcoholic product labels are also regulated by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (“TTB”), as we’ve discussed here.
Contact one of the attorneys at Strike & Techel if you have questions about advertising or labeling issues.
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