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FTC To Update Green Marketing Guides

The Federal Trade Commission is beginning a regulatory review of its environmental marketing guidelines, also known as the Green Guides.

While the review was scheduled to begin in 2009, because of the current increase in green advertising claims it has been bumped up. The guides were last updated in 1998.

The guides outline general principles for all environmental marketing claims and provide specifics about certain green claims, such as degradabilty, compostability, recyclability, recycled content, and ozone safety.

In a Federal Register Notice, the Commission is requesting comments on the guides, including standard questions about costs, benefits, and effectiveness of the guides, and questions on specific topics, including “sustainable” and “renewable” claims.

As part of the Green Guides review, the FTC will be holding public meetings or workshops on a number of green marketing topics. The first workshop on January 8, 2008, will address the marketing of carbon offsets and renewable energy certificates.

The FTC announcement came just days after the chairman of the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority reiterated his commitment to cracking down on firms that make erroneous green claims in their advertising and marketing material, BusinessGreen reports.

A number of green advertising claims have been questioned recently. A lack of agreed marketing standards for lower-emission and alternative-fuel vehicles led to Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority ruling against Lexus, Volkswagen and Citron for making green claims in advertisements.

The guide could help the current state of green marketing. “Do you really dare put your head above the parapet by touting your greenness and attract very knowledgeable consumers who are going to crawl all over your business … and Greenpeace and every other environmental group you can think of?” Mike Longhurst, senior VP at McCann Erickson, London, said in a recent AdAge article. “If consumers think they can catch you telling a half-truth, they will.”

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