FTC Proposes Tighter Standards for 'Green' Products

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Companies that claim to be environmentally friendly or say their products have "green" qualities may face more stringent requirements as far as showing proof of such claims, the Federal Trade Commission said Wednesday.

The FTC's proposed update of its "Green Guides," which haven't been revised since 1998, would dissuade companies from making general statements such as saying their products are "eco-friendly" or from using certain seals of approval without specifying the reason for the claims. The FTC is also looking to push company marketers using terms such as "degradable," "compostable" or "free of" a certain substance to better define what those terms mean.

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"In recent years, businesses have increasingly used 'green' marketing to capture consumers' attention and move Americans toward a more environmentally friendly future," FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said in a statement today. "But what companies think green claims mean and what consumers really understand are sometimes two different things."

U.S. regulators are looking to prevent companies from "greenwashing," or saying their products provide certain environmental benefits relative to the competition without proving the claim. About 9% of product advertisements in mainstream magazines have some sort of green message, The New York Timesreported, citing Underwriter Laboratories' TerraChoice Group.

The 229-page document outlining the proposed revisions is available on the FTC's Website. The FTC set a Dec. 10 deadline for public comments.
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