On October 1, 2012, the Federal Trade Commission released its long-awaited revised Environmental Claims Guides, known as the “Green Guides.” The Commission staff adopted many of the approaches it had proposed a year ago, but it also has introduced some brand new concepts, which in this final version could raise serious questions about the Commission’s procedural integrity. Furthermore, the Green Guides suffer from ambivalence toward governmental, international, and scientific standards, which surfaces as a palpable tension between that which is scientifically factual and that which is subject to the misconceptions of the public because of the technical nature of the subject matter.
Continue Reading FTC Releases Revised Environmental Claims Guides: Modifications and Surprises

If you thought Washington had nothing more to say on the issue of privacy…think again.  Check out Legal Bytes‘ (our sister-blog) article on the latest report to come out of Washington — this time focusing on the release by the NTIA of its “Green Paper” (which you can download and read), Commercial Data Privacy

This post was also written by Alun J. Jones.

On January 6, 2010, the UK’s advertising watchdog, the Advertising Standards Authority (the ASA), issued a decision upholding complaints it received against a poster that promoted the Finnish airline, Finnair. The poster featured an image of an Airbus flying above Finland’s coastline and stated, “Be

On June 9, 2009, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC” or “Commission”) testified on its efforts to ensure truthfulness of environmental or “green” marketing claims before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection of the Committee on Energy and Commerce. Noting the “virtual tsunami” of environmental marketing, the FTC announced it will continue its efforts to ensure that green advertisements are “truthful, substantiated, and not confusing to consumers.”

In order to protect consumers from unfair or deceptive practices, the FTC explained its multi-tiered approach of (1) issuing rules and guides for businesses, (2) challenging fraudulent and deceptive ads through enforcement actions, and (3) publishing materials to help consumers make informed purchasing decisions.

The FTC’s Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims (“Green Guides” or “Guides”), 16 C.F.R. Part 260, are the centerpiece of the agency’s environmental marketing program, according to the testimony. The Green Guides, first issued in 1992 and most recently revised in 1998, help advertisers avoid making “unfair or deceptive” claims in violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act (“FTC Act”) by describing the basic elements needed to substantiate specific environmental claims. While the Guides “provide the basis for voluntary compliance” with section 5 of the FTC Act, “[c]onduct inconsistent with the positions articulated . . . may result in corrective action by the Commission under Section 5 if, after investigation, the Commission has reason to believe that the behavior falls within the scope of the conduct declared unlawful by the statute.” § 260.1.Continue Reading The FTC Takes on Environmental Marketing Claims Through Green Guides and More

The Direct Marketing Association is stepping up efforts to help its members move toward greener marketing practices. The DMA has introduced a “Green Marketing” program, which allows its professionals to earn a certificate in eco-responsible marketing. In addition, the DMA has developed an environmental resource center on its website.

The DMA’s Environmentally Responsible Marketing (ERM)

The UK Advertising and Standards Agency (ASA) has recently published a report in response to an increase in consumer complaints regarding misleading environmental claims in advertisements. Companies and advertising agencies have been accused of "green washing" advertisements – making environmental claims that are less about saving the planet and more about exploiting consumer concerns. Particularly

This forum was written by Avv. Felix Hofer.

1. The European Approach

1.1. Up till now the Europe Union did not issue a set of harmonizing principles and rules meant to specifically govern ‘environmental/green marketing’.

The main reason for such approach was not disinterest from the EU’s institutional bodies towards the issue, but probably

In 2005, General Electric Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt—in announcing GE’s Ecomagination commitment to address the world’s need for cleaner, more efficient sources of energy, reduced emissions, and clean water—stated that increasingly for business, “green” is green. Today, companies of all shapes and sizes are recognizing that being environmentally conscious and sensitive to the sustainability

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority has released a report on environmental claims in advertising, which warns advertisers of a dramatic rise in the number of complaints brought concerning such claims.

In 2006, the ASA received 117 complaints regarding green claims in 83 advertisements. In 2007, the agency received 561 complaints concerning 410 ads.

“Independent research commissioned by the ASA in November 2007 indicated a high awareness of green issues and environmental claims in ads. However, it also revealed a high degree of confusion and a lack of basic understanding about claims and what they mean,” stated the report, which was released following a public meeting in June on environmental claims and greenwashing.

“The research also found that those who were the most concerned about the environment tended to be the most knowledgeable and most cynical about what they see as ‘greenwash,’” the ASA said. Claims most commonly challenged were those involving CO2 emissions, such as carbon “neutral,” “zero” and “negative,” as well as absolute claims, such as “100% recycled” and “wholly sustainable.”Continue Reading UK’s Advertising Standards Authority Issues Green Claims Report, Decisions