The Federal Trade Commission kicked off a review of its “Green Guides” aimed at helping companies avoid misleading and deceptive environmental claims about their products and services.
The FTC’ voted 4-0 on Wednesday to start a regulatory review of its Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims. The public will be able to comment on the 2012 version of the guides and recommend potential updates.
Companies are required to follow the so-called “Green Guides” before making certain statements in their marketing and advertising, such as calling products “sustainable” or “carbon neutral.” The FTC this year settled with Kohl’s Inc. and Walmart Inc. over the companies’ alleged false marketing of rayon textile products as bamboo.
FTC Chair Lina Khan said that “it’s critical” that businesses make truthful claims and representations so that they’re not issuing deceptive statements that can distort the market for environmentally friendly products. She noted that guidelines haven’t been updated in a decade.
“These guides have to keep pace with developments in both science, consumer protection and consumer perception,” Khan said at an FTC open meeting to approve the review.
Several members of the public urged the commission to start reviewing the guides to crack down on greenwashing and exaggerated environmental claims about products. Hilary Jochmans, the founder of advocacy group Politically in Fashion, said there’s a risk that terms such as “sustainable” and “organic” will lose their effectiveness without strict and updated standards.
“There’s a risk that the term becomes meaningless or even detrimental to efforts to promote healthy environmental practices,” she said.
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