FTC Announces April Workshop on Green Marketing Guides and Packaging

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced a public workshop to examine developments in green packaging claims and the consumer perception of such claims.  It will address topics such as trends in packaging and environmental packaging claims, new green packaging terms not currently included in the "Green Guides" and claims based on third party certification.  The workshop will be held on April 30th at the FTC's satellite building conference center, located at 601 New Jersey Avenue, NW, Washington, DC. 

This is the second in a series of public workshops being held as part of the FTC's review of the "Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims" (the "Green Guides").  The Commission held a workshop on January 8th to address the marketing of carbon offsets and renewable energy certificates.

The FTC's Green Marketing Guides were first issued in 1992 and provide general principles for the use of "green" claims such as degradability, recyclability and recycled content.  Those guides were updated in 1996 and 1998. 

ANA and other industry groups worked closely with the FTC on the development of the original green marketing guides in 1992.  While the guides do not have the force and effect of law, they provide marketers with important guidance on how to discuss the environmental attributes of their products, packaging or manufacturing process.  Given the interest of consumers in these issues and the rapid pace of technological changes, the Commission's review of the green marketing guides is timely. 

Several weeks ago, ANA joined with the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA) and the American Advertising Federation (AAF) in filing comments with the FTC.  We believe the Green Guides and the ad industry's self-regulatory program are working together effectively to ensure the truth and accuracy of green marketing claims.  For that reason, we urged the Commission to proceed cautiously in any revision of the Green Guides. 

While the FTC has broad power to regulate the use of green marketing claims under its existing authority to prevent false or deceptive marketing practices, the Green Guides have been a useful resource for marketers.  Given the changes in technology and the development of new claims and practices that are not currently addressed by the Green Guides, such as the marketing of carbon offsets, we are seeking input from our members about whether there should be any changes or additions to those guides to reflect today's marketplace.  Please let us know your thoughts.   

If you have any questions or comments about the FTC's review of the green marketing guides, please contact Dan Jaffe (djaffe@ana.net) or Keith Scarborough (kscarborough@ana.net) in ANA's Washington, DC office at (202) 296-1883.