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FTC Could Move To Establish Legal Precedents On Green Ad Claims

David Young, a partner at Goodwin Procter LLP, told Marketing Daily that with the Federal Trade Commission updating its “Green Guides” next year, the commission is likely to seek legal precedents by going after companies whose green claims have been under investigation. This may lead to an increase in the number of cases against misleading green advertising claims.

The guide, originally released in 1992, is the FTC’s primary tool in regulating green advertising claims. Between 1990 and 2000, the FTC brought 37 cases involving environmental marketing claims. Since 2000, no cases involving environmental marketing claims specifically came out of the Green Guides’ guidelines.

Marketing Daily reported that regulatory watchers are interested to see how the FTC will deal with terms such as “sustainability,” “renewability,” and the issue of carbon emissions, which has a variety of metrics systems and standards.

The FTC has held three workshops to examine issues concerning the marketing of carbon offsets and renewable energy, green packaging, and green buildings and textiles.

In September, the Government Accountability Office reported that the growing U.S. market for carbon offset is so loosely regulated that it offers consumers “limited assurance of credibility.”

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