Date: Oct 18, 2010
On October 6, 2010, the Federal Trade Commission ("FTC" or "Commission") proposed revisions to its Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims ("revised Guides") and requested public comments on these revisions.
The FTC originally issued the Green Guides, 16 CFR Part 260 ("Current Guides"), to help marketers avoid making environmental claims that are unfair or deceptive under Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act ("FTCA,") 15 U.S.C. 45.1. The Guides outline general principles that apply to all environmental marketing claims and provide specific guidance about how reasonable consumers are likely to interpret particular claims, how marketers can substantiate them, and how they can qualify those claims to avoid consumer deception.
The revised Guides include modifications intended to clarify existing provisions and requirements, offer guidance on some new claims not previously addressed, and explain why the FTC elected not to address certain other claims. The FTC's proposed revisions were informed by consumer perception data from a study it commissioned, but it solicits additional consumer perception data as part of its call for public comments. The deadline for submission of public comments on the proposed Guides is December 10, 2010.
We provide a brief overview below of key changes, guidance on new terms, and terms that the FTC declined to address.
Key changes to existing provisions:
Guidance on New Terms:
Terms not addressed:
The FTC invited comment on eighteen specific questions, emphasizing its interest in obtaining any consumer perception data. Notably, the FTC declined to adopt provisions and definitions drawn from the International Standards Organization (ISO) standard or other international guidance, saying that while it supported global harmonization goals, its mandate is to address false and deceptive advertising, not to advance environmental policy objectives. There are many nuances in the Guides that will be of keen interest to marketers from a broad spectrum of industries, and the proceeding is expected to generate many comments from affected stakeholders.
For more information on the revised Guides, please contact Sheila A. Millar at (202) 434-4143, or firstname.lastname@example.org
 The text released October 6 is available at http://www.ftc.gov/os/fedreg/2010/october/101006greenguidesfrn.pdf.
 The Commission issued the Green Guides in 1992 (57 FR 36363 (Aug. 13, 1992)), and subsequently revised them in 1996 (61 FR 53311 (Oct. 11, 1996)) and 1998 (63 FR 24240 (May 1, 1998)).