FTC Turns Greenwashing Into Fraud

From a New York Times online article, "FTC Moves May Signal Start of 'Greenwashing' Crackdown":
The agency's Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims, or Green Guides, define terms such as "recyclable" and "biodegradable" and explain how businesses should back up environmental assertions. Though FTC cannot force businesses to adopt greener practices, Section 5 of the FTC Act authorizes the agency to intervene when businesses are misrepresenting their practices to clients -- in other words, turning greenwashing into fraud.
We have commented on FTC guidelines previously, but this article highlights several new developments regarding the Green Guides, the FTC's environmental marketing policies:
  • 7 new cases were opened in the last year, out of 42 total since the Green Guides were implemented in 1992.
  • At least two states (CA and IN) have adopted the FTC guidelines as part of their state marketing laws.
  • Other regulatory agencies, such as the SEC, are also getting into environmental issues in their jurisdiction, suggests these agencies are moving an environmental agenda forward while actual legislation languishes in Congress.
Most of these guidelines seem to point towards transparency and full disclosure as key issues, which has always been a key part of our environmental marketing strategies. Creating a transparent framework now makes it easier to add specific information down the road as regulations continue to progress.