Green Flash Newsletter
Actionable insights from Brandology®
       In the past eight years the FTC has not filed a single case related to false or misleading green ad claims. Don’t count on that continuing for a ninth year.

       The FTC began retooling its “Green Guides,” the rules that govern green claims, in early 2008. They “accepted comments” and held workshops. Now they are hinting that the new guidelines are almost ready, and enforcement will be jumpstarted with cases they have been investigating behind the scenes.

       The new regulations are sorely needed. It’s been over 10 years since the Green Guides were updated. They don’t even mention climate change, let alone terms like “sustainability” and “carbon footprint.”

       Lawyers who specialize in reading regulatory tea leaves anticipate that the new guides will cover a broad range of topics, including:

  • The type of carbon neutrality claims companies can make when they buy carbon offsets or Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) as opposed to reducing their own emissions
  • The definition of “sustainable” and “renewable” plus the substantiation needed to use either term
  • Whether third party certification means the FTC will accept claims at face value
       This all means that marketers will be reading a lot of legal guidelines in 2009. Printed, of course, on 100% recycled paper.

We should think about...
  • Is our green advertising 100% substantiated?
  • How many of our green claims are based on carbon offsets or RECs?
  • Are we as up-to-speed as we should be on our state’s green marketing laws?
Sources: Goodwin Procter 9/08; MediaPost 10/08; PR News 1/08
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